Gatehouse: Tús Nua

December 26, 2017

Teach, Play, Walk

Listening Post 130. Seneca was the first to observe that the best way to master a subject is to teach it, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that the members of Gatehouse are all music teachers. John Wynne and John McEvoy are Irish trad veterans who have played and recorded together as a flute-fiddle duo, and Jacinta McEvoy (guitar, concertina) has accompanied both over the years. What made this Roscommon-based faculty a quartet—and allows them to add lore to their folk—is the sterling voice of Rachel Garvey, singing in Irish and English. Tús Nua (Fresh Start) carries us back in time not only through music but also by the means of movement. No motor transport or virtual communication here, but a collection powered by legs—in the jigs, reels and mazurkas that make up the instrumental tracks, and in the songs, all of which involve someone out for a walk. Spailpín Fánach (The Wandering Laborer) tells of an itinerant worker who traverses the countryside (video 1). In the bilingual Slán agus Beannacht (Goodbye and Blessings), a strolling young man meets and instantly falls in love with a young lady and, in the face of her skepticism, promises to send for the clergyman (video 2). An ambling witness narrates Dobbyn’s Flowery Vale, describing a riverside conversation between a man about to set sail and the heartbroken lover he is leaving behind (video 3). Also captivating are the roadside romance Easter Snow and Casadh an tSúgáin (Spinning the Rope), about a disapproving mother who tricks her daughter’s suitor into walking—backwards—out the front door. Among the instrumentals is the joyful title track, the only contemporary number on the album, that John McEvoy composed for his daughter’s wedding. Down the aisle or along the road, there’s magic in this music. (Gael Linn)






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