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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

Cowboy Celtic

David Wilkie and the McDades

by Ryan Thomson

That's a interesting concept for an album title, I thought to myself, while reading the label which includes a picture of a cowboy hat framed by Celtic style artwork. I looked more carefully at the artwork and noticed a cowboy on horse back cleverly worked into the design. 


This recording starts with traditional Irish fiddle tunes and evolves into American western melodies like "Whoopie Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies," and "Shenandoah." Being an experienced listener I can detect Irish influenced licks on the fiddle and mandolin even on tunes played purposely American style. Despite my discerning ears though, most of the Irish tunes sound Irish, and the cowboy tunes sound American, particularly because of the fine country mandolin playing. 


I enjoyed an exception to the rule in the Texas swing style version of the Irish melody "The Girl I Left Behind Me." Irish tunes such as the "Maid Behind the Bar," though, reminded me of a good traditional pub session. The overall feeling of the album is relaxed, not frenetic dance music, nor just easy listening, but a mix of waltzes, reels at a little less than session speed, country style fiddling, and even a song. This recording isn't merely American tunes played in Irish style though. Its also not just a collection of someone's favorite Irish and American tunes on the same album. 


I tried to put my finger on what the music reminded me of. Finally it hit me, the album sounds as if it were designed for a movie sound track. It invoked emotions and images in my mind which went beyond what I might expect of an album of isolated tunes. There was a coherent emotional theme. I don't know if this was the intent of the musicians, but if I was them, I'd send copies off to every film maker in sight. 


For ordinary listener types I predict satisfaction with the clean playing and creative arrangements. Its an all purpose recording, suitable for driving in the car, while working around the house, or jogging with the walkman. 

Written by Ryan Thomson

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