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Through the Round Window
Artist: Eamonn Coyne
Label: Compass Records
Length: 14 tracks / 54:59
Maybe I’m just not into banjos, but Eamonn Coyne’s _Through the Round Window_ sounds a bit tinny and thin for my tastes. What you’re getting in this album is banjo, banjo and more banjo. If you like banjo, buy it. But the accompanying instrumentals (including flutes, guitars, bouzoukis and snare drums) are so low in the mix for the first six tracks that I had to look in the insert to see what they were.
The first really interesting track is “Hendon Road,” already halfway into the album. Like many of the best Celtic reels, it begins with one instrument (want to guess which one?) then adds another before progressing into another reel and introducing the bass.
“Walpoles Pipes” is a pleasant break from the banjo overmix. Coyne enlists master flutist Michael McGoldrick to create a nice blend. If memory serves, McGoldrick and Coyne’s families are both originally from an area in the west of Ireland where counties Mayo, Galway and Roscommon meet. (Yes, I stole that from the liner notes.)
The next track, “Highlands,” risks adding a little more banjo back into the mix but also offers a very jazzy bass-driven composition. Another highlight was “There and Back Again,” which begins Celtic, then decides to delve into American folk and bluegrass.
Tracks 7 through 14 would have made a nice EP, but despite the Tolkien references, the best I can give the album as a whole is…
Dan Singleton 9/29/02