This is the second CD recorded by Tom Walsh, following the success of his solo debut “In Company,” which was released to critical acclaim in late 2002. While “Touch Wood” repeats many aspects of the successful formula of “In Company”, there has been advancement in terms of the overall maturity of the production, and the range of material covered. A number of threads also underpin the music, even down to the actual wood being touched by the main musicians featured.

The nucleus of musicians involved in “Touch Wood” consists of Tom, Mark Lysaght and Joe Foley – who have played together regularly over many years. This is important in terms of the execution of original material, as some of the time signatures are complex and require tight unison between the instruments. The experience gained over many years of gigs and sessions allows for a degree of musical empathy between the players, which is obvious throughout.
Joe Foley has been producing his distinctive instruments for over 25 years, starting with Irish bouzoukis and soon diversifying into mandolas, mandolins, guitars and even custom-made instruments for musicians all over the world. Joe is also a fine singer, whose relaxed rendition of “The Unfortunate Lass” is a highlight of this CD. This album features Tom on mandola and banjo and harmonica, Mark on guitar, and Joe on bouzouki – all stringed instruments hand-made by Joe, and treasured by their owners.

Mark Lysaght taught himself guitar as a teenager, and was mainly involved in pop and rock bands throughout the 1970s. Through a series of “accidents” he became involved in folk and traditional music, and played with both Tom and Joe in “An Beal Bocht” (Mark II), along with uilleann piper and singer Pat Broaders, and Johnny Curtis on bodhrán. Over the years, Mark has pursued a highly individual accompaniment style for Irish music, drawing on a wide range of influences, from hard rock through folk and blues, to jazz. He is equally at home with his Joe Foley acoustic guitars, or with a Fender Stratocaster in his hands (the latter instrument was not deemed appropriate for “Touch Wood” – maybe next time!). On this CD, he has aimed to underpin the other players in a simple yet effective style which never intrudes on the other instruments, but seeks to enhance and augment the basic musical structures. Mark also provides keyboard accompaniment on “McDermott’s Farewell”.

From 2004, Tom has successfully run a weekly folk club called “The Gig In The Corner” on Wednesday nights at the Speaker Conolly in Dublin involving (at first – up to May 2004) Joe Foley, and more recently Mark Lysaght. eEach night a special guest musician joins in to complete the trio, and the results are consistently fresh and vibrant, attracting listeners from far and wide.

The music on the CD is rooted in Irish traditional and folk music, reflecting Tom’s great love for and appreciation of the genre. A wide spectrum of styles is covered, from the easygoing introduction of “Fineen O’Driscoll” through some new original songs, and with a sprinkling of high-energy sets of tunes. On each track, Tom contributes his unique musical personality – committed, energetic and soulful – undeniably himself!

This recording accurately captures the breadth of Tom’s musical vision, and we will listen with pleasure, in the sure knowledge that within a reasonable time (during which he can recover from the rigours of writing, recording and producing this CD), he will be busily planning his next release – “Touch Wood!”