Review: Mixing the Punch –

PADDY O’BRIEN – Mixing The Punch
New Folk Records NFRWCM0003

Reviewed by Gordon Potter

Paddy O’Brien, originally from County Offaly, is, by any standard you care to mention, one of the outstanding players of the two-row button accordion, with a string of awards to his name. He is also a prodigious collector of tunes, with an ability to retain regional variations and styles, as well as recalling the individual techniques of players who have now left us. He is quoted as saying that he likes musicians who play the nicest tunes even more than those who have technical musicianship – surely the sort of thing that can only be said by someone whose own technical musicianship is an absolute given.

Paddy’s technical playing gives some of the cleanest, clearest playing that you could hope for, but never at the expense of the heart and soul of the tunes. Each set here involves the listener straight away, and you just know that there’s been a lot of thought put into what you’re hearing, so that everything sounds just right. There is a lightness of touch here that is extraordinary and a passion for the music that is evident.

The tune sets take us on a tour all round Ireland, with Paddy’s playing reflecting the regional styles perfectly. Mostly jigs and reels, as you might expect, with hornpipes, polkas and slow airs thrown in for good balance, this selection really is a showcase to treasure.

Teresa Baker provides piano accompaniment, and her non-obtrusive, complementary style should be a lesson to any who aspire to the genre. There’s a guest appearance from fellow-Offaly man Felim Egan as well, to add some extras to this really splendid production. Class this as “essential listening.”