Unwanted CD Should Be Desired by All

Music from the Atlantic Fringe
Compass 4526

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The Unwanted is an intriguing collaboration between Irish singer Cathy Jordan (Dervish), Sligo fiddler Séamus O’Dowd (Dervish), and Californian Rick Epping. Music scholars long ago unearthed the Celtic roots of what was once mislabeled “cowboy” music, so it makes perfect sense to open this recording with “Out on the Western Plains,” complete with its “Ti yi yippee yippee yay, Hey-aye” lyrics. Why not? After all, the most-famous version of that song came from an Irishman (Rory Gallagher in 1975) who borrowed it from a black man who was never a cowboy (Leadbelly). The Atlantic is no musical barrier today, it wasn’t back in 1975, and it never was! All of this is to say that there’s nothing odd about mixing Irish fiddle with harmonica, or turning a concertina-driven tune such as “Shove the Pig’s Foot” into something you’d hear at an Irish pub session. If you need more evidence of how The Unwanted obliterate borders, check out the way Jordan mashes her Irish lilt into an Appalachian-style catch on “Sweet Becky at the Loom,” and the way that Old West swing and Blue Ridge bluegrass collide on “Sadly Grows the Rose.” Heck, there’s even a cover of “The Dusty Diamantina,” which is about Australia and just about as far from Atlantic shores as one can get. It’s great fun to hear these three great musicians branching out. O’Dowd made his mark as a fiddler, but he plays a mean harmonica and slide guitar as well. Epping—a veteran who has played bluegrass with Bill Monroe, Texas blues with Mance Lipscomb, and Irish tunes with Joe Cooley—contributes dry-as-dust vocals, concertina, banjo, and jaw harp. And what accolade can add about Cathy Jordan’s voice that hasn’t already been uttered on numerous occasions? Let’s just say that she’s earned every one of them. This record makes great historical sense, but it’s also an offbeat delight stamped with uniqueness and variety.

Check out this Yourtube clip.

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