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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  A Long Road: Tunes from Celtic Lands by Peter Janson, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/1/2015
  Element Series: Etheria by Peter Kater, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/1/2015
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A Long Road: Tunes from Celtic Lands
By Peter Janson
Label: EWM Records / Eastern Woods Music
Released 6/1/2013
A Long Road: Tunes from Celtic Lands tracks
1. Hey Jenny Come Down to Jock / Shepherd's Delight
2. Tobin's Favorite / Ystwffwl
3. Black Mary
4. Willie Coleman's Jig / The Rose in the Heather
5. Balendalloch's Dream
6. Believe Me If All These Endearing Young Charms
7. New Year's Day / On Christmas Night
8. Bonnie Charlie
9. Next Market Day / The Red and the Black / The Thrush's Nest
10. Logie O' Buchan
11. Behind the Bush in the Garden
12. The Lass of Humber Side
13. Mother's Love
14. Gaelic Air
Fingerstyle Goes Green and Plaid
There is traditional music and then there is traditional music interpreted by master guitarsmith Peter Janson. I refer his latest album called, A Long Road – Tunes from Celtic Lands. On this impressive fourteen-track album, Janson plays his six-string acoustic guitar with spirit and style transforming himself into a one-man band that anyone would be happy to have in their living room on any given night, whether they abide in Londonderry, Ireland or Londonderry, New Hampshire for an old time oiche cheoil. Peter Janson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and he had formal training at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, the cultural center of the universe. Although he traveled to the west coast where he made quite a name for himself, he had the good sense to return to the East where he performs regularly all over New England and, for my money, does not release enough albums for me to enjoy. I know I am not alone on that issue.

The Irish people know about A Long Road. They know about hardships, the "Troubles", about leaving home and coming home. They know about loss and very little gain. They are an indefatigable people, however. They maintain their humor and keep their joy of living, along with their hearts, right on their sleeves. The music on this recording represents this spirit very well. These are not ordinary songs, but uncommon gems that have been polished and refined and cherished with love.

Janson opens the show so to speak with a bluesy rendition of Hey Jennie Come Home to Jock/Shepherd's Delight. Anyone that has music in their soul will tap their feet with this one. He picks out a Muddy Waters style riff on Hey Jennie while gearing up for a traditional pairing on Shepherd's Delight, a pisharogue of the highest order. Remember "Red sky at night – shepherd's delight".

One of the unique qualities about the album is that Janson's guitar is both voice and instrument, a standard element in most traditional Irish music. Black Mary is my favorite song on the album for its melancholic refrain. The song would fill any silence with absolute joy and a touch of sadness. Part classical, part traditional, it is what I would call a lullaby for adults.

From the dance music of Scotland comes the tune Balendalloch's Dream. Mr. Janson infuses a bit of energy into what I might venture started out as a strathspey, but becomes a fluid ballad under his superb fretwork. It is no surprise that the tune had its origins in Balendalloch, a village in northeast Scotland famous for more than one kind of spirit.

With a bare murmur of voice, the triplet, Next Market Day/ The Red &The Black/Thrush's Nest, becomes a wonderful production. Peter's playing is mesmerizing and I hated for the song to end. The first story song tells of a lass on her way to market, but as always, she is waylaid by a young man's eye. The Red & The Black is a danna lyn The Thrush's Nest is a tribute to John Clare's poem of the same name, but sung sweetly by a six-string acoustic voice.

Logie O'Buchan is a story common in Scottish times gone by. A well to do lassie falls for a lad without a pot and the parents always disapprove. Seems some things never change. The winsome tune has a measured pace, but the melody seems so familiar, like hearing news from an old friend. The lyrics goes something like, "He said, think na lang lassie, tho. I gang awa. An I'll come an see thee, in spite o' them.”

Behind the Bush in the Garden is one of those old tunes that go by a hundred other names, but the melody is well known by Irish and Scottish alike. The tune is two hundred years old and usually played as a jig, but Peter’s version is a soothing ballad.

Even after hearing the A Long Road many times, it did not take much thinking to realize how Peter Janson made it so appealing. This is not just a case of smoke and mirrors or even electronics. I decided it is an attention to detail of the artist doing the transformation of the melodies, and the quintessential element of timing. Some of the tunes make you tap your toe, but most of them beat with your heart. I highly recommend this album.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/1/2015
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