How it’s New York: Donie Carroll lives in New York, and runs a session at Murphy’s Bar, in Queens.
How it’s Irish: Donie is originally from Cork, and the songs on this delightful CD are Irish singalong and music hall.
This review was originally published in Irish Examiner USA, April 2.
I dare you not to sing along with Cork man Donie Carroll’s second CD, “Divil of a Noise.”
The 11 tracks include rousing music hall numbers, like “The Army of Today’s All Right,” which is actually a comic Irish answer to the British World War I recruiting number, as well as lovely parlor songs like the Victorian “Love’s Old Sweet Song.”
It is even better than Donie’s debut, “Down the Slippery Gap,” which came out a few years ago (read our review here): self-assured, wonderfully arranged and sequenced to go from slower to faster and back, and all together irresistible.
Donie is well known in New York through his hosting the Murphy’s Bar session in Sunnyside, and his participation in the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.
He’s been a favorite on both of Joanie Madden’s Folk ‘N Irish Cruises.
This CD should entice a larger audience to him. 2013 is young, but I will already name it one of the best of the year.
Accompanied by some great players, including Caitlin Warbelow on fiddle and Heather Bixler on violin (OK, they’re the same instrument, but Caitlin takes the trad solos while Heather the bel canto tunes), Mick Moloney, Jimmy Crowley and Máirtín De Cógáin on backup vocals, Billy McComiskey on accordion, Joanie Madden on whistle and Gabriel Donohue on a whole host of things (guitar, bodhán, I’ve lost count), Donie shows off his love of rare auld songs with a bright contemporary arrangement.
There’s also a brass and woodwind combo, which is so right for some of these old numbers, featuring Darin Kelly on trumpet, “Tuba Joe” Exley on tuba (what else?), and Kate Bowling on piccolo.
Donie’s voice never sounded so perfect as he gently sings the comic song “Are Ye Right There, Michael?” by Percy French, a sly protest against the West Clare Railway Company.
You have to listen several times before you get the sarcasm in it – if you’ve seen the way the trains run in “The Quiet Man” or “The Rising of the Moon,” you’ll know what the song’s about.
Just writing out the title of “Are Ye Right There, Michael?” has made the song go round in my head again.
Donie has a gruff voice and a strong Cork accent; he’s absolutely on key and his delivery is understated and often hilarious.
When he sings the more shamelessly sentimental songs, like the lovely old “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree” by Harry Williams and Eghert Van Alstyne, he shows some emotion but never becomes bloated with it.
Seamlessly inserted into the CD are newer songs such as Barney Rushe’s “Aisling,” a song about contemporary emigration which portrays a young flight attendant – which has one of the sweetest choruses on the album. Mick Curry’s “Two Thousand Years after Jesus” protests the eviction of the traveling folk in Ireland with the destruction of their camp sites.
The CD is beautifully designed, a fold-out with clear notes (and not printed too small!) from Donie on every song, giving some background information as well as his connection to them, and a fine essay from Don Meade, the producer of the Blarney Star Concert Series at Glucksman Ireland House.
Overall, “Divil of a Noise” makes a sweet sound.