Review: “Wish” by Poitin


If someone was to tell me a few years ago that perhaps one of the best traditional style Celtic bands performing today was from the Czech Republic, I would have told them they were crazy. After all, the Czech Republic already cornered the market on Pilsners. What else do they need? However, after listening to Poitin these last few years the truth of this statement is undeniable. If any further proof is needed, one simply has to look to their newly released sixth album, “Wish,” to find it.

Filled with toe-tapping jigs, riotous reels, wonderful waltzes, along with some innovative original songs, listeners of all ages are sure to be delighted and enthralled by their musicianship and skill. Having originally formed in 1996 and releasing albums since 2000, Poitin has certainly grown and matured over the past 18 years. “Wish” is the next logical step in their evolution after the success of “Bofiguifluki,” their 2010 Celtic Radio Album of the Year.

This new album highlights more of the subtleties within Celtic music as well as the beauty that lies within some of that simplicity. From the precision of the musicians to the expertise of the production, it is obvious this album has been handled with care.

While it is impossible to pick out a favorite, some of the instrumentals I find myself repeatedly going back to are Toffee Jigs, Farewell Waltzes and Set of the Gates. The first track of the album, Toffee Jigs, is a wonderful arranged by the band to start the album in a very lively upbeat fashion. Paddy Fahy’s, Leitrim Fancy, and Sean Bui are all played cleanly and precisely trading off leads while the drum keeps the constant rhythm in the background. Where Farewell Waltzes leads in with a soft, whimsy flute that relaxes the listener. I can slowly feel myself unwind, as the music plays gently. It is as if one might watch two dancers twirl gracefully while lost in the moment. The two waltzes that create this arrangement are Farewell to Uist and Drumgola Waltz. However, Set of the Gates, the second to last track, once again brings us full circle with light, energetic tune that plays with key changes and a variance of rhythms. It starts with Wedding Reel and then slips into Swinging On the Gate. Finally, the arrangement ends with Palmer’s Gate.

Likewise some of my favorite songs on the album are The Broomfield Wager, Arthur McBride, and Cold, Haily, Windy Night. While Arthur Mc Bride has been one of my favorite songs since I heard Paul Brady’s version many years ago, The Broomfield Wager and Cold, Haily, Windy Night are quickly gaining traction after hearing Poitin’s performances of these traditional songs. The Broomfield Wager is a wonderful, forceful song. The steady rhythm of this song gives it a sturdy foundation and the pipes lend their airiness to it that adds a nice contrast. The vocals then add the final piece and tell the story beautifully. Cold, Haily, Windy Night is just told perfectly with such feeling that it truly emotes what the character’s are feeling. Likewise, the instruments actually paint the setting and mood for us as it evolves throughout the song.

Lastly, Poitin introduces several new songs on this album as well. Autumn Song was penned by Jeremy King, lyrics, and Jakub Siegl, tune. Together they create a breathtaking harmony between the finger picking of the guitar and the etherealness of the voice; a whistle comes in simply for the interlude and further accentuates the quality of the voice. How I Wish, the title track, is based on a traditional tune, but the lyrics, once again penned by Jeremy King, has such a beautiful message behind it. It reminds me of the words spoken by Thorin at the end of The Hobbit, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” In this song, it talks about someone who wants to stay with their loved one but can not because of war.

All in all, this album, “Wish”, should be on your buy list if it is not already. Poitin does a fantastic job with the arrangements and penning these inventive original songs. I will not be surprised to see many accolades given to them for their work.

Artist: Poitin
Buy Album: Wish

Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.

Review: Flashpoint “A Timely Misadventure”

Flashpoint intrigued me when I saw their EP, “A Timely Misadventure,” come up on the list for review. Not just because they’re local to me, and I do like giving local talent a shot, but because I’m addicted to television and I liked the show by the same name. But that’s neither here nor there, this is all about the music.
Flashpoint is a Dallas/Fort Worth based, three-piece band consisting of Joseph Carmichael, David Mehalko, and Daniel Mehalko. These three young men play a wide variety of instruments in a predominantly instrument collection of songs on this new EP, “A Timely Misadventure.” This five-track project has one song with vocals, the other four are all instrumental with some interesting twists. All three members play multiple instruments – from whistles to accordions, fiddles to mandolin and banjo. Being young, they blend a variety of styles in to traditional folk and celtic music for a fresh fusion of sound.
I liken this project to a soundtrack album. It’s inspiring and entertaining, but it also doesn’t distract from whatever you might be doing. That’s not to say it’s boring, because it’s not…not at all. But for people who like either instrumental music or can’t focus on tasks with vocals, this is good stuff. I found myself typing faster – or more accurately – to the beat of the track playing at the time, and that’s always a good sign. So is the fact I find myself “chair dancing” to the melodies. I’m not sure which one of the three does the vocals on the third track, but he has a lovely voice.

This isn’t “rock and roll” celtic music. It’s traditional and mostly acoustic. My first foray into Celtic music was the Barra MacNeils in the 1990s. And though Flashpoint isn’t quite as complex – they’re half the size – but it reminds of them, and I’ve loved that album for a very long time. But it’s that a good thing, at least to me. The tracks are mostly two-song melodies woven together with skill and harmony. If I have to pick a favorite, it would be… difficult because I tend to let it flow like a soundtrack and find myself disappointed when it’s over.

These three men are highly skilled and really talented – and they’re just getting started. I look forward to seeing what they do in the future, because as good as this EP is, I think their best is ahead of them as they learn and gain life experience.

Artist: Flashpoint
Buy Album: A Timely Misadventure

Review: “The Road Home” by Get Up Jack

Get Up Jack

So, what happens when you combine the Green Grass of Ireland and the Blue Grass of America’s Heartland? Chances are you’d end up with a group such as Get Up Jack, based out of Troy, NY. Featuring three former members of the group Hair of the DogGet Up Jack’s debut album The Road Home is an excellent example of what happens when you combine traditional Irish/Celtic music with an American Folk/Bluegrass twist.

The Road HomeThe album opens with a song called “Longdog” If you didn’t know that this was a Celtic album, the opening harmonica riffs would make you think you were listening to Willie Nelson’s version of “The City of New Orleans.” Trust me, this is not a bad thing. I personally find it quite catchy.

The album also features other Celtic favorites such as “On the One Road” (A personal favorite of Yours Truly) and “Dicey Riley,” but also features popular American Country hits such as Rascal Flatt’s “Bless the Broken Road” and a really excellent version of John Michael Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance”

The album concludes pretty much where it started, with a fun, harmonica and banjo makes you want to sing along version of Van Morrison’s “The Bright Side of the Road”

The Road Home brings a fun and fresh twist to traditional music Irish and American music. From the banjos and harmonicas of “Las Vegas (In the Hills of Donegal)” and “Hit the Ground and Run” to the tin whistles of “The Holy Ground” The Road Home is a fun, lively album that fans of groups such as The Wolfe Tones, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Clancy Brothers would enjoy……And of course Hair of the Dog ;)


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Review: The Modest Revolution by Enter The Haggis

The Modest Revloution

Enter The Haggis are a Celtic Rock band from Toronto, Canada. The group, known for their eclectic and energetic sound, have been around since 1996 and show no signs of slowing down. ‘The Modest Revolution’ is their latest studio release. It is also worth noting that the record was financed by crowdfunding, allowing the band to have control of the production and release of the album, and for fans to directly support the band without going through a label.

The album opens with the song ‘The Year of the Rat.’ I much appreciate the use of Uilleann Pipes on the song, but feel like the track cuts itself short at the end. The second track on the album, ‘Can’t Trust the News,’ with its strong beat, horns, and upbeat folk-rock feel has a sound that would fit well in a mix with Mumford and Sons. ‘Down the Line’ deftly combines a Country-Swing with heavy guitars and a fiery harmonica solo. The anthemic ‘Letters’ brings in soaring vocals and guitars, while ‘Pardon’ plays around with a Hendrix-esque riff and an interesting drum groove. I really like the Highland Bagpipes on ‘Hindsight,’ but the track is a bit repetitive and never quite gives the payoff it seems to have been building up. ‘Copper Leaves’ is a nice break from the electric Rock sound that dominates most of the record. The album closes with the laid back ‘Up in Lights,’ which I imagine to be the perfect lighter waving song at an ETH concert.

The band does a fine job of fusing harder Rock with the Celtic sound, and does so without falling into the rut of simply playing Bagpipes over distorted power chords. They allow the heavy elements of their sound to flow without becoming overpowering, weaving folk into their predominantly Rock styling in a way that is both interesting and accessible, and doesn’t feel contrived or forced. A very good album from a fantastic group.

Artist: Enter the Haggis

Buy Album: The Modest Revloution

Jack Baruzzini is a Web Developer and musician, and has a love of Celtic music both traditional and new. In addition to writing for Celtic Music Magazine He is also an aspiring Science Fiction author whose writings can be found at

Review: “Here This is Home” by Colleen Raney

Here This is Home

Colleen Raney is a Celtic Singer-Songwriter who hails from Portland, Oregon. ‘Here This is Home’ is her fourth full length album.

What stood out to me most is the fantastic arrangements on the album. They fill out the sound and support Colleen’s rich voice without making the songs sound muddled. As one of those who believes that pre-Elecric Dylan was the best, I much appreciate the stripped back arrangements which let let Colleen’s voice shine.

Another thing I really liked was the percussion on the album. The jazzy brush drums on ‘Craigie Hill,’ and on ‘Stand Up for Love’ fit in well with the mix. It’s nice to see non ‘traditional’ drumming used in a way that isn’t a full on drum kit assault.

The audio production on ‘Here This is Home’ is great too. It’s clean without being over-polished, a balance that is hard to achieve. Colleen’s voice and the instruments are given room to breathe without being over-compressed and flattened. The album as a whole has a feel reminiscent of Indie acts such as The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes. Given that she is from Portland, Oregon this doesn’t come as a big surprise.

Standouts tracks:

‘Candadee-I-O’ – The melody reminds me a lot of Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’

‘Craigie Hill’ – Love the brush drumming this track, and instrumental ending with the fiddle and accordion.

‘The Nightingale’ – Beautiful guitar on this track.

‘Stand up for Love’ – The catchy ‘radio Single’ of the album.

Artist: Colleen Raney

Buy Album: Here This Is Home

Jack Baruzzini is a Web Developer and musician, and has a love of Celtic music both traditional and new. In addition to writing for Celtic Music Magazine He is also an aspiring Science Fiction author whose writings can be found at