Colm Ó Snodaigh – Giving

Album Review | Kila Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

Kíla’s Colm Ó Snodaigh has chosen a completely different feel for this, his long overdue follow up to 1994’s Éist and a world away from anything he recorded with Kíla in his twenty year stint with the band.  With the help of soprano saxophonist Richie Buckley and a tight rhythm section of Conor Murray and Martin Brunsden, the opening song “Adieu” places Colm Ó Snodaigh somewhere in the middle between Wyndham Hill ambience and Cool Jazz.  It would have been highly irritating had Colm Ó Snodaigh adopted an American mock swing time croon to go with this jazz approach to the opening song, but thankfully the natural Irish brogue is definitely still intact and the song fully benefits from this.  Alternating between English and Gaelic, the songs themselves take a secondary role behind the arrangements which are thoroughly gorgeous.  I don’t speak Gaelic and therefore I don’t have a clue what some of the songs are about, but that doesn’t matter.  “Adieu” is in English but I tend not to listen to the words anyway, rather concentrating on the sound instead.  But for those who insist on having the whole caboodle, the inner sleeve has the lyrics printed in both languages.  The intimate setting of these songs is probably the albums’ greatest strength, with sparse acoustic arrangements of songs such as “Fós liom féim” (Still On My Own) and “Uaireannta” (Sometimes) with what could easily be its coda, “Passing Through”, with Martin Brunsden’s ethereal saw slicing through the atmospherics of each piece like butter.  The Cowboy Junkie-esque “Leochaileach Aris” (Fragile Again), with its other-worldly refrain courtesy of Nina Haynes’ haunting vocal, takes on another approach altogether with Hothouse Flowers’ Fiachna Ó Braonáin’s guitar contribution.  “Ró lán – Roll On” is a tonal poem of astonishing beauty, with both a spoken part and a sung part augmented by a Lisa Hannigan backing vocal, a bonus to any recording she graces in my opinion.  The jazz influence is once again re-visited in “So Long” with more delicious soprano sax from Buckley, serpentining effortlessly through each verse and chorus in a seemingly fluid and organic flow.  These musicians seem to be made for each other.  Giving is really a delightful album, rich in atmosphere and melodic beauty; neither a Saturday night album nor a Sunday Morning one, rather somewhere between midnight and dawn.