The title of Brendan’s latest CD "Song Brook" indicates a variety of material on this, his 6th solo album. It’s also a nod to his cousin John Nolan, whose painting 'Mellow Fish’ is featured on the cover. John is a well-known artist in Ireland whose work has been exhibited throughout his native country, in Britain and in Europe.
The CD opens with the ballad "The Mountains of Pomeroy" about the outlaw Renardine and the woman he loved. “ I had played this tune as an instrumental for years and never really thought about singing the words. However it’s such a good story and I’ve always been drawn to that in songs”. The album moves to Bill Watkins comical song of unrequited love "The Errant Apprentice" where Jonathan Moorman’s fiddle truly compliments the liveliness of the clever lyrics. There are other fun songs on the CD like Jack Foley’s wonderful ode to single-malt Scotch Whiskey "A Bottle O’The Best', Con O’Drisceoil’s "King Lear', Colum Sand’s "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing', and "Paddy McGinty’s Goat". The ‘Goat’ song has an instrumental accompaniment that includes tuba, played by Mark Shreiter, and trombone (Danny Ellis), which fit the song very well. “Having played in a brass and reed band when I was young it was always my hope to feature brass or reed instruments somewhere on a recording. Of course this kind of accompaniment is not really in line with the stringed instruments largely found on Irish and Celtic songs in general. 'Paddy McGinty', which is probably more in the style of a musical-hall song, really lent itself to the tuba and trombone accompaniment. If I was going to record it then it would have to sound different since the song has been done a number of times before. I was very pleased that it worked so well.”
The serious side of the CD features a lovely rendition of Anne Lister’s "Icarus". The tune has a simple guitar accompaniment and soars near the end when Danny Ellis introduces organ to the mix. Another story-song about the sad plight of the tenant farmer "Dan O’Hara" has a simple accompaniment with lovely harmony singing by Danny Ellis.
There are a couple of instrumentals; The traditional "The Lark In The Clear Air" and Brendan’s own composition "Twilight'. They both feature more lovely fiddle playing by Jonathan Moorman. Other musicians who appear on the album are Bob O’Donovan and Al Fuller. Bob delivers some tasty bouzouki and mandolin licks on "The Hackler From Grouse Hall" and "Nancy Spain". His banjo figures prominently on 'Paddy McGinty'. Al Fuller adds a very mellow harmonica to Nolan’s original song "Shady River Road".
The album goes out on a high note with a song in gaeilic, "Nil Na La". Again Jonathan Moorman weaves his magic with a great original fiddle tune that compliments the high energy of a song about a fellow who does not want the night to end. Here’s hoping that you won’t want this CD to end either.