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Shadow and Light

John Doyle

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Album Review

Raised in the Irish tradition, it's not something that guitarist and singer John Doyle can easily leave behind — nor does he want to. The vast majority of the pieces here might be original compositions, but in their own way every one is tethered to Ireland, even "Clear the Way," set during the Civil War. You can hear Ireland in the inflections and the chord changes, and in the two instrumentals with their lulling melodies. There's a touch of country here and there — hardly surprising, since country and Celtic are closely linked and some of this album was recorded in Nashville. The vast majority of the disc is given to songs, and it's apparent that Doyle has been busy, not just writing but growing in stature. So, alongside "Little Sparrow," written for his daughter, there's the pure ache of "Liberty's Sweet Shore" and the family history of "The Arabic," featuring just Doyle's voice and guitar, a song that plays to his strengths and also shows some of his remarkable instrumental technique. "Wheel of Fortune" is a song that begs to be covered by a traditional singer. The surprise comes with the atmospheric "Selkie," which sees Doyle switch to electric for something more mystical that seems a little closer to Mark Knopfler territory. He's a wonderful musician and his career continues to grow.

Shadow and Light, John Doyle
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