Already covered in numerous accolades, Burning Bridget Cleary is on fire with their fourth album “Pressed for Time”. It is a superb compilation of traditional and old time songs and tunes of various different origins, highlighting their Celtic and American roots. The album is filled with spellbinding fiddle work and multilayered arrangements. Each track possesses a vibrant clarity and the clear transitions within the songs truly allows each of the member’s skills to shine.
A perfect example is BBC’s version of Jay Ungar’s masterpiece Ashokan Farewell. Based off of the style from the 19th Century, this slow waltz beautifully changes hands from a soft, emotionally played fiddle to the skillful finger picking of a guitar and then back. Yet, at no time does the piece seemed forced or choppy. The piece smoothly changes hands like a graceful dance. In the end, they just let the music speak for itself.
Likewise, their version Stor Mo Chroi is very different from any other version. While most are melancholy and slower in tempo, theirs is not. It is performed at a faster tempo with a driving rhythm in the background. Nevertheless, we still can feel the struggle between the lovers expressed throughout the song, the angst of their separation. So while they take the arrangement in a different direction the core of the song still remains the same.
Moreover, their versions of Oh My Little Darling and Two Sisters are fantastic examples from the canon of traditional music, with Two Sisters able to be dated back at least to the 1600’s. On this album, both of these songs are true standouts for me. The a capella start to Oh My Little Darling with the fiddle taking lead gives it a true Appalachian feel. Plus, the percussion by Jim Salamone really helps to keep the piece driving forward. The piece blends wonderfully into Fire On the Mountain with an electric guitar solo before going into the final verse of the previous song. Likewise, Two Sisters is an up tempo murder ballad that will have you singing along with a smile on your face. After all, who doesn’t love a good murder ballad to pick up one’s spirits?
While the songs I’ve just mentioned are wonderful, they are just the start. Other songs on the album to note are On a Sea of Fleur De Lis, the title track Pressed for Time / Bonnie Mulligan, The Ballad of Tim Evans and Sitting in the Stern of a Boat. Whether it is an instrumental or a narrative ballad they are all done with the same excellent care an attention to detail that BBC is known for.
In short, Burning Bridget Cleary’s fourth album “Pressed for Time” is one album you don’t want to miss. In this album, BBC strips these wonderful songs back to the core and then builds around it in their own unique way.
Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic MP3s 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.