Biography (Courtesy of the Artist’s site, 2007)
Aoife Granville is a young woman with several years experience of playing, performing and teaching traditional music at a very high level. Add a vocal gift which combines a sure grasp of sean nós and traditional singing technique and style and you still will not come close to an understanding of what this album achieves in terms of its cultural reach. There is a clue in her choice of album title “Sráid Eoin Shuffle”. Sráid Eoin is the street in Dingle into which she was born and where she first stepped out as a young girl, a street musician with the famous Sráid Eoin Wren. This band is one of four bands in the town which march out every Wren’s Day, or Lá an Dreoilin, 26th of December. The tunes played by the bands have been handed down from generation to generation. The sound of these tunes is as identifiable a mark of their origins as is accent in speech. Aoife’s version of the The Sraid Eoin Shuffle is resonant of the sounds and sights, laughter and madness of the Wrens Day in Dingle. Other tracks on the album evoke other memories of musicians, singers and composers long dead, but also of friends and musicians still happily alive and playing
There are too many fine performances to mention individually but her version of the old love song “Lios Bhaile Dháith” stands out as a particularly lovely example of the local style and the canúint of Munster Irish spoken in west Kerry. Every significant form of traditional music is offered on this album, from the “pure drop” of unaccompanied singing in the Irish language to accompanied singing in English, to solo instrumental and accompanied instrumental performances featuring Aoife’s expressive flute playing and clear unpretentious fiddle style. In the heart stopping Caoineadh or lament for the fallen chieftain O’Neill she gives us a performance of sustained emotional charge. This a challenging and complex air from the most ancient traditional air repertoire, a testing piece for any musician. Here she reveals the full extent of her mastery of the flute and understanding of the form.
What makes the music on this remarkable debut album so special are the layers and layers of personal, familial and social associations running through every tune song and air. Her sister and brother accompany her on some of the pieces; friends and family and the rich musical heritage of west Kerry and the wider tradition are referenced throughout as sources. She has thoughtfully chosen her material and arranged it with the authority and confidence born of love and appreciation.
Now more than ever before we need to know that music has a value far beyond the commercial or popular. Every so often a musician comes along who makes us aware of just how priceless the gift of music is. Aoife Granville is one such musician.
by: Nuala O’Connor
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