Beoga: Niamh Dunne (fiddle); Se n Og Graham, Damian McKee (accordion); Eamon Murray, Liam Bradley (background vocals).
Additional personnel: Mudd Wallce (electric guitar); Brona Graham (banjo); Claire Creelman (harp); Lisa Murray (whistle); David Howell (clarinet); Linley Hamilton (flugelhorn); Odran Devlin (bass instrument); John Fitzpatrick, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Beoga bills itself as a traditional band, but don't be fooled. With their unusual instrumentation (twin lead accordions, piano, bodhran, and fiddle) and their Catholic taste in rhythms and tune sources, Beoga's second album title is aptly chosen. Notice, for example, the way the title track starts out in a slyly reggae-ish vein before splitting up into a fractured rhythmic structure while remaining spare and dry in texture. Notice also how fiddler/singer Niamh Dunne's original jig "Luka's Wake" suddenly segues into a dirty funk interlude which then gives way to the sounds of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and a smooth jazz horn section. When the singing starts it's an American song called "The Factory Girl" (which, to be fair, could just as easily be an Irish one), and then it's a Steely Dan tune, and then it's a Tin Pan Alley pop song from the 1920s. This is the kind of willful eclecticism that, without due care, could come across as mere gimcrackery and nose-thumbing, but with Beoga it sounds more gleeful and a little bit, well, mischievous. It's also worth noting that when they dig into a set of traditional reels or dark, midtempo jigs, they sound at least as good as the best trad band out there; maybe better. The orchestral bits are more hit and miss. Highly recommended overall. ~ Rick Anderson