Start with a boy in London growing up around a bunch of traditional Irish folks music, add a heavy fascination for American roots music, expose him to Frank Zappa and reggae, and then season him with a bit of real life knocking about. Next, turn him loose in a recording studio and see what happens. What happened with Malachi Doyle is his release, Flood Alleviation Scheme.
Generally, I pop a new CD into play while I read the liner notes. The first tune, Inflight, caused me to set down the notes and simply listen. Here is a light tune with scat style vocals, tasty chops, humorous incidentals and interesting arrangement. I couldn't help being reminded of some early hokum blues and, oddly, Louis Prima's Wan'na Be Like You from Disney's Jungle Book. What a great way to grab your attention!
You should know to expect something different when you read the title list and see things like Wexford Town Blues and Whiskey & Cocaine along side Hungarian Adventures and Flood Alleviation Scheme.
"Wexford Town Blues" is a haunting, beautiful piece that seems to fuse American blues with a traditional British folk feel. It never lands too heavily in either genre to lose its unique emotion and feeling. Whiskey & Cocaine sounds like generic a cry-in-your-beer song but listen to the lyric and you wouldn't find pornography and two sisters from the Ukraine in most cry-in-your-beer tunes. Hungarian Adventures is a fairly straight on acoustic blues number; well done and enjoyable. Flood Alleviation Scheme is another unusual number though. Definitely blues-based but it has a tenuous, almost ethereal sound with vocals that are vaguely reminiscent of gentler Paul McCartney ballads.
Another notable piece in this collection is Staring at the Bar. This starts out as a blues tune but along the way Doyle manages to incorporate several different elements including horn and string arrangements. He handles all this in ways that somehow seem to work in spite of the incongruity.
Overall, Doyle has released a very enjoyable and quirky collection; world music of a different sort. This is music that draws upon the musical traditions of multiple cultures and continents, mostly successfully. The quirkiness is a positive for me but may not be for everyone. I hope Malachi Doyle keeps at it!
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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