TOM WALSH In Company Own Label 11 tracks 49 minutes Rathmines native Tom Walsh has been around folk music for four decades now,and all those forty years or so of playing is distilled into this great little album. Tom's CV includes times with Dublin bands, An Beal Bocht and Ratttlin' Strings and a thirty-one year musical association with Joe Foley. No surprises then to hear bouzoukis and mandolas high in the mix, and an inevitable echo of Planxty (an influence Tom acknowledges in the comprehensive liner notes, which include all the words to the songs). The balance of the album shades to ballads with six of the eleven tracks being devoted to songs, most of these are traditional, with the emigration piece 'No Flood of Tears' coming from the pen of Tom, he also adds a new tunes over the traditional words of 'Bold Denis McCarthy' and the 'Hiring Fairs of Ulster' the later being somewhat staccato, dictated perhaps by his choice of mandolin to give the dominant colour to this track. His voice is a light tenor and he has excellent diction, some of the songs are taken a little too fast however, and he appears to be running out of breath on 'No Flood of Tears.' Instrumentally the band are rock solid, with great movement on the change from a banjo led 'Boy in the Gap' to the minor fiddle dominated 'Mother's Delight.' More banjo work appears on track ten, 'Kitty Went a Milking, The Laurel Tree / Jennie's Weddings', Tom leads this out solo style and only just pulls it off, in 'Kitty', there's a stumble or two which he picks himself up from and by the time the full band join him on the 'Laurel Tree he's dancing like Gene Kelly. If you already own a Rattlin Strings album you'll recognize the combination of strings and hammered dulcimer, which appears again on this album. As a bouzouki nut myself, I really enjoyed the intro to Ewan McColl's 'Champion at Keeping them Rolling', and Tom's own 'Nan's Tune', whilst the treatment of 'Kelly the Boy from Killane' is a real up-tempo surprise. An honest enjoyable acoustic album with enough musical twists and turns to keep the most critical of listeners engaged

Seán Laffey