Personnel: Patrick Ball (harp, celtic harp, irish harp); Timothy Britton (whistling, flute, pipe, Uilleann pipe); Martin Hayes (fiddle).
Recording information: Joe Hoffmann Studios, Occidental, CA.
Photographer: Irene Young.
Arrangers: Patrick Ball; Timothy Britton.
Celtic harpist Patrick Ball for once spends more time speaking than playing on Storyteller: Gwilan's Harp & Other Celtic Tales. His stories are accompanied by his harp playing, along with flute and fiddle work, but the album is devoted to storytelling. Typical of folk tales, the stories touch on rural people and range from "The Matchmaker," a comic account of two unlikely lovers put together by a professional marriage broker named Screwdriver, to "Moore's Castle," a variant on the legend of the Silkie, in which a sea people intermingle with humans living along the shore. "The Soul Agony" is a Faustian story in which a mother sells her soul to a druid so that her son can play the harp, and the title track is a 30-minute narrative about a woman who is a harpist until her instrument is destroyed in an accident. This last piece may be of more interest to harpists than to general audiences, but Ball invests all of his stories with enthusiastic reciting, so that the tone of his voice, accompanied by his typically appealing playing, maintains interest even if the story itself rambles. ~ William Ruhlmann