Review | Songlines

Blessed Sadness

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Antoni O''Breskey


Nomadic Piano Project


Antoni O'Breskey has long been a prolific, border-denying, genre-splicing presence in his adopted Ireland. Italian-born with Argentinian roots, his musical interests stretch from Irish and Arabic traditional music to Spanish flamenco, blues, jazz and far beyond.

Conceived at the beginning of the first lockdown and recorded under COVID-19 restrictions, Blessed Sadness may well be the most accomplished and satisfying of his nearly 40 recordings. The dominant tone is mellow and reflective, shot through with often luminous beauty, as in the title-track where O'Breskey's piano and trumpet are lit up by Davide Secondi's ukulele, and in the sweet innocence of the cello- and double bass-accompanied ‘Unfolding Lullaby’. Inspired by Mongolian music, ‘Baigali Khan’ is a thrilling multi-voiced, string-led celebration of lives more closely connected to nature. More exhilarating still, is the joyful fusion of Appalachian dulcimer, didgeridoo, bodhrán and banjo on ‘Dancing on the Green’, while the fiddle, cello and piano combination of ‘Waltz to Forgotten Times’ boasts a delightfully rustic vitality. Closer to home, ‘Barbara Allen’ is gorgeously rendered, O'Breskey's heartfelt vocals held aloft by Aongus Mac Amhlaigh's cosseting cello and Leonora Lyne's comforting flute. Lyne is also heard, with fiddler Ultan O'Brien, on the wonderfully evocative ‘Cloudburst’, while the ironically titled ‘2020 Rhapsody’ is a thoughtful meditation on living through a pandemic.

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