Review | Songlines

Gather the Good

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


We Banjo 3


We Banjo 3


Potently blending Irish traditional music, bluegrass and old-time Americana, We Banjo 3's 2012 debut Roots of the Banjo Tree saw the Galway-based four-piece position themselves as prime movers in the push towards breaking ‘Celtgrass’ into the folk mainstream. Follow-up Gather the Good finds the two pairs of brothers – David and Martin Howley and Enda and Fergal Scahill – adding Canadian and Scottish touches to their already rich mix, together with piquant splashes of the blues and the occasional assistance of James Blenner Hassett on double bass. The transatlantic acoustic mash-up proves hugely enjoyable, the quartet pushing through one smartly crafted, deftly executed performance after another. What results is an altogether seamless and sophisticated mingling of traditional instrumentals, original material and cover versions; Enda Scahill's touchingly reflective ‘It's Hard to Be 3’ and an evocatively lonesome-sounding take on the Johnny Cash standard ‘The Long Black Veil’ being the standouts.

All four take on banjo duties throughout and variously take up mandolin, guitar fiddle and viola. Seven-time all-Ireland champion Martin Howley reveals himself time and again to be a dazzling force of nature and while David Howley's and Enda Scahill's vocal contributions may perhaps sound less persuasive to some, there's no denying the instrumental prowess of all concerned throughout.

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