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Eire: Isle of the Saints

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Album Review

Oregon guitarist and cultural historian John Doan is the master of the rare 20-string harp guitar. Here Doan and an ensemble of top Celtic musicians play 11 songs in tribute to the spirit of the Emerald Isle, as seen through the lives of poet William Butler Yeats, the great blind harper Turlough O'Carolan, and St. Patrick. Doan traveled through Ireland to visit significant spots; his colorful descriptions of his inspiration for the songs — plus pertinent quotes and poems from the three great men — are included in the extensive liner notes. Doan's compositions revel in the sentimental and noble side of the Irish experience. Doan's songs are heartfelt, like laments or love songs, with marches added to embolden the spirit. Bagpipes, uilleann pipes (played by Eric Rigler) and men's choir add to the drama, while the high strings of Doan's resonant 20-string harp guitar swirl like fairy dust, glisten like dew on the green grass, and weave magical vistas. "Where Horses of Faery Hide" begins with a delicate passage setting the scene of purple heather; galloping rhythms — both playful and strong — bring the magical horses to life. On "Wake," a male chorus conjures images of a Druid chant against a frenzied dance cadence. "The Journey Home" offers one of Doan's tenderest themes, while bagpipes and drums lead a brave march on "Tara: Hill of Kings." This album is lush with Celtic spirit.


Genre: Spoken Word

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Guitarist John Doan is a master of the Renaissance lute, as well as classical and contemporary guitar styles. His signature instrument, however, is the 20-string harp/guitar, originally popular at the end of the 19th century in Europe and America. Doan began playing guitar at age of 11 when he lived in Venice, California. Given the setting, his favorite music then was surf music. He later became interested in classical guitar and earned a degree in music performance from Cal State Northridge. After...
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Eire: Isle of the Saints, John Doan
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