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Cavan-born, Glasgow-based fiddler Gráinne Brady takes inspiration for ‘The Road Across the Hills’ From Patrick MacGill’s novel ‘Children of the Dead End’. MacGill (The Navvy Poet) transcended the hardships of his youth, becoming a successful writer.
Irish/Scottish and contemporary influences infuse Brady’s vibrant rhythms and rich lyrical patterns, illuminating peaks and troughs of the emigrant experience and the extremities of poverty. Arrangements evoke both adversity and lively inner strength. She’s accompanied by accordion, mandolin, percussion, violin, viola and cello. Jack Houston contributes lilting verse. ‘The Glen’ marks MacGill’s Donegal origins. The title track sketches the young man’s streps abroad with open scope. Upbeat ‘Fields of Renfrewshire’ suggests Caledonian challenges and colour: “you learn to like it for you must”. Slow paced ‘Norah Ryan’ introduces first love, but also destitution. Characterful ‘Moleskin Joe’ builds winning optimistic rhythms.
Strutting ‘The Navvy of Kinlochleven’ sets a jaunty pace. Undulating ‘Winter’ marks an end, before ‘The Search’ dances with hope, love and tragedy. Brady’s nuanced fiddling exudes sorrow on ‘The Flower of Danaveen’; ‘The Woe of It’ offers affectionate closure. Captivating themes and sounds. Bryony Hegarty