I’ve always looked forward to album releases from Tony Reidy, a Mayo man with a sharp wit. His latest release, Hayshed Days, shines even brighter than his last release ‘Rough Shot of Lipstick’, which says something! He is again in the company of fellow musician Seamie O’Dowd creating a contemporary sounding album through which he weaves his memories.
Tony’s latest release opens to Raifteiri is Back. Antoine Ó Raifteiri (1784 – 1835) was an Irish language poet from Tony’s County Mayo, Ireland. Some say he was the last of the wandering bards. He lost his sight to smallpox as a child and later made his living playing fiddle and singing songs and reciting poems to the landed gentry, as many traditional musicians did. His poems are still taught to Irish school children today. That Tony resurrects him in a ‘world gone wrong’ where he now plays his songs for free is poignant in the current socio-political climate. The wandering bards were in touch with the people and if they were around today would certainly see through all the haze created by those in power whether they be a banker, politician or media mogul.
The title track, Hayshed Days, finds Tony reminiscing on a bygone era. His recall is sharp and intentionally contrasting against the society of today, a constant theme in his songs. His phraseology is reminiscent of Dylan, few words are wasted and what words he does use conjure up bigger memories from confession, keeping the sacred heart lamp lit, brylcream hair, Beetle boots, mineral bars, to getting a clout at school.
His recollections unfold one after another. Some are short memories that haunt through keepsakes as a photo of his mother does on Innocent Times which transports him back in time to when he took the photo with his Brownie 127.
Whether Tony is conjuring up a hard drinking character like Willie who took the wrong turn early on in life or refelecting on the seekers of truth on November Daisy his songs have a way of connecting with you. He’s also very adept at tugging those heart-strings on No News is Good News, a regular term used by a mother that remains with her son throughout his life.
Tony wears his heart on his sleeve and shares the confusion he feels as a well as the doubt he places on the power of reminiscence and the solace he gains from those innocent times. On Back to the Well he questions whether he is looking through rose tinted glasses, whilst Closer to the Truth tackles the very essence of our existence.
Musically, Tony and Seamie O’Dowd use a vast array of instruments from Mandolin and banjo to fiddle and dobro to create a very rootsy album with lush undertones and rythmns borrowed from folk to americana. The results are perfect company to Tony’s notable voice!
Hayshed Days is his best album to date! 10 out of 10!
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