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Private Label DMGB004

Doimnic is a renowned singer from Gaoth Dóbhair, Co. Donegal, who performs in the approved sean-nós tradition yet has a distinctive and personal way with a song and a feel for slightly unusual presentation (in terms of his chosen instrumental accompaniment). Sona Do Cheird (loosely translated as “happiness in one’s trade”) is a CD that’s generous in spirit and execution, presenting 13 tracks, these being Doimnic’s own arrangements of what he variously describes as long-lost Gaelic songs or ancient poetry.

This album, Doimnic’s fifth release but his first since the beginning of the present decade, is the culmination of a search for lyrics of old songs where the melodies may have been lost, and represents an attempt to bring these songs back to life. Doimnic’s melodies are constructed in the old modal Gaelic styling (which he studied and researched at college), and have the feel of ancientry. He responds to the rhythms of the poetry by the crafted musicality of his composition, while his singing is tremendously moving and possesses all the raw beauty of authentic sean-nós. Nine of the songs are taken from Dhá Chéad De Cheoltaibh Uladh, a volume of songs collected by Ulster’s Énrí Uí Mhuirgheasa which was published in 1934. Of the remainder, two are based on traditional songs, while the tender love song, Beatha Úr, comes from the Scots Gaelic wedding poem written by Glasgow–based Niall O’Gallagher before marrying his wife Claire. A noteworthy feature of Doimnic’s song settings is their unusual instrumentation, with the rather special, quite luscious timbres of pedal steel, clarinet and harmonium complementing the more traditional sounds of uilleann pipes and piano accordion. Even so, Doimnic’s equally rather special voice is never in danger of being upstaged by these settings, while the two selections which he sings a cappella (Dónall Ó Maoláine and the old favourite Bean An Fhir Ruaidh) are definite disc highlights.

The recording is excellent, as is the CD’s presentation; the admirably extensive booklet contains full texts and translations and authoritative and informative background notes, armed with which I’d wager even the non-Gaelic speaker will find this disc seriously compelling.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.