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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

Michael McGoldrick

By Matt Cibula
Published January 5, 2007


What if someone made a Celtic pop album, but forgot that it was supposed to be boring, sentimentalized claptrap? What if someone actually constructed a solid set with interesting new sounds and ballsy arrangements? What if listeners were actually moved by this album and it made them smile and shake their asses? Well, that’s what’s happened here. Michael McGoldrick is a flautist of no mean skill and superb breath control, but flautists like that grow on trees. What sets him apart is his compositional ambition (together with keyboardist cohort Donald Shaw) and global depth of field. Brilliant to bring in horns when they’re needed; brillianter to have tabla-thumping Parvinder Bharat in the group; most brilliantest to swing wistfully (“Gaelic Gavotte”) and to go prog-jazz (“Strange Journey”) and to rock out (“Last House In The Village”). It gets so you expect curveballs like Alison Brown’s banjo on “Glenuig Bay” and the Bollywood vocal samples on “Sophie’s,” but they still sneak up on you. The trad medleys are respectfully iconoclastic, and the whole project radiates care and class and butt-moving fun. Does anybody remember fun?