Lynched: From Punk to Trad

Cold Old Fire

Lynched is the brainchild of Dublin bothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, who once prowled the city's punk rock scene. These days they're more likely to be found in archives and old songbooks trawling for old ballads and music hall ditties that fit well with the four-part harmony singing (often in minor key) with band mates Radie Peat and Daire Garvin. The transition from punk to traditional music is much remarked upon by over- zealous reviewers who fail to realize that musicians—Billy Bragg comes to mind--make such leaps regularly and organically. Don't we all start with what we know, experiment, and then revisit our roots? My forte into solo singers began with hearing my father play records from Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. It didn't take much imagination to gravitate to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Pete Seeger. Although folks of my generation still prefer Dylan's gravely poetry to Bing's canned smoothness, Mitchell's angelic tones to Garland's theatrics, and Pete's politics to Frank's, legions of us have had the experience of being gobsmacked when hearing a Sinatra song in an Italian deli and thinking, "Holy cow! Old blue eyes sure did know how to phrase a line."

Call Lynched a similar return to the source—the material that was once commonplace in Dublin. There's fiddle, banjo, whistles, uilleann pipes, guitar, and snare drum on Cold Old Fire, but all of the instrumentation takes (ahem!) second fiddle to complex harmony singing. The approach, vocals, and material will put you in mind of British Isle stalwarts such as The Watersons, The Copper Family, Roberts and Barrand, and The Young Tradition, with a bit of The Incredible String Band tossed in moments in which instruments take center stage. The material is a thoughtful balance of old chestnuts such as "Henry My Son," a variant of "Lord Randall," and "The Old Man from Over the Sea," with delightfully naff music hall material such as "Daffodil Mulligan," with its "Fresh fish!" street vendor call outs and "Father Had a Knife," a good-natured takedown of wholesome family values. Interspersed among the twelve tracks are one original ("Lullaby") and material that made its way to Dublin via England, Massachusetts, Scotland, and World War One. The only misstep is the hidden track at the end, which borders on the cacophony one might associate with folk punk, but even it is more undeveloped than unwise. In the end, the most Gothic thing about this CD is its Wiccan- like cover. Add a booklet that superbly sources each song, and this album is a delicious throw back to the giddy days of the early Folk Revival. Don't worry about these guys came from musically; revel in where they are now.  Rob Weir

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