Words by Nigel Williamson
Nobody can say no to Paddy Moloney. From Mick Jagger to Ry Cooder, the list of unlikely collaborators corralled by the veteran leader of the Chieftains is almost endless. The Chieftains’ follow-up to 2010’s Irish-Mexican fusion with Ry Cooder finds them introducing another 14 diverse collaborators to the joys of a proper, old-fashioned pipes, whistle, fiddle, flute and bodhrán session. The strong links between Irish folk and the styles of rural Americana is mined profitably on ‘Pretty Little Girl’, featuring the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and on tracks with the Pistol Annies, the Civil Wars and Punch Brothers.
Past collaborations with the likes of Marianne Faithfull and Natalie Merchant have shown how well the Chieftains brand of Irish folk works with a female lead and Imelda May, the Secret Sisters and Lisa Hannigan keep up the tradition here. The latter in particular contributes to one of the most stunning tracks the Chieftains have ever recorded on ‘My Lagan Love’, which also features some haunting playing from Moloney on tin whistle and flautist Matt Molloy. The indie rock collaborators play their part, too, with Bon Iver singing affectingly on ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ and the Decemberists delivering a spirited version of Dylan’s ‘When the Ship Comes In’. There’s even a collaboration with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman recorded in space. I’m not sure the Chieftains were up there in orbit with her; but with Paddy Moloney, you never know.
Listen to a choice track from Voice of Ages on the Top of the World CD included with the current issue (#84 June 2012).
Subscribe now and receive this album for free (new subscribers only). To order, please click here.