Niall Toner Band -- Review
- Niall Toner Band: 'There's a Better Way'
Don't let the fact that they're from Ireland fool you; these guys are
straight up bluegrass.
"These guys" are: Niall Toner on lead vocals, mandolin, lead and rhythm
guitar; Bill Whelan, Richard Hawkins, and Martin Styles on 5-string and
claw-hammer banjos; Colm McCauhey on fiddle; Clem O'Brian on vocal
harmonies, lead/rhythm guitar, mandolin; and Dick Gladney on doghouse bass.
Their title track, 'There's a Better Way' is a song assuring you that there
is a better way to live than vengeance. "Forgiveness is the word I think I
heard him say" is a line from the chorus.
The next song is a completely different mood. It is an original, but a
traditionally-styled bluegrass tune called 'Ocean of Teardrops', inspired by
Don Gibson's 'Sea of Heartbreak'.
The next cuts are "Chainsaw Country Blues', 'The Cheatin' Side of Town', and
'Tears Along the Track', which include some claw-hammer banjo, Bill Monroe
style mando picking, and a bit of slide guitar.
Though most of the tracks are vocal, like 'My Baby's Gone and
Said Goodbye', there is an instrumental medley of 'Drunken Daisy' and 'You
Gotta Have a Banjo In the Band'. In the liner notes, Niall comments that the
instrumentals were composed as fiddle tunes for guitar, such as Norman Blake
or Tony Rice would do.
As you may have guessed, my "straight-up bluegrass" statement
can't be proven without mention of Bill Monroe. What can prove more than a
tribute to Bill with 'The Master's Resting Place', a nostalgic song about
Bill Monroe's life; and a ballad by the name of 'Bill Monroe's Mandolin'?
The last few cuts The Straight and Narrow ', 'I Would Die' and
'Sweet Memories of You' are typical love songs in the bluegrass style.
In all, I would recommend this CD to bluegrassers who appreciate
straight, traditional bluegrass!
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