2002 – Independent
Irish folk singer Colin O’Donnell’s album Give Us An Aulo Solo is a pretty little record full of traditional songs from Erin’s Green Isle and soulfully sung and played folk music, with plenty of well know fodder for the punter at home to sing along to if so desired. O’Donnell’s thickly accented comes across with homespun loveliness and charm, and all of the instrumentation is competently played on the usual choices of fiddle and acoustic guitar.
I would say, however, that, despite the sweetness and softness of the vocals, and the skill in the playing, I couldn’t really sense a lot of soul on this record. I mean, tracks like Black Is The Colour and Crazy World are drenched in melancholy and sorrow, but I just get the feeling that Colin is merely going through the motions of what is expected in that style of folk song. This lack of depth, for me, was a real downside to this release and just made me enjoy the whole thing that little bit less. Also, his decision to perform a version of Fairytale Of New York as a solo track rather than a duet was a bit baffling.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that the record is totally devoid of feeling. It’s just that there isn’t quite the depth of emotion that I’m used to from Celtic ballads. I suppose that this isn’t really that much of a problem if one decides to listen to O’Donnell as a story teller rather than one bearing his soul through music, for, if one decides to take that course, he really is a great story teller with tracks like Streets Of New York coming over wonderfully in their quaint ballad way.
I will say, though, that the instrumental tracks on the album like The Lonesome Boatman and the title track are quite spectacular and glutted with an audible passion for playing. The screaming and wailing violin in The Lonesome Boatman, for example, is just so beautiful that O’Donnell comes close to rivalling the magnificent likes of Dirty Three, and Give Us An Aulo Solo has that wonderful liveliness of a traditional Irish jig which just lifts this record out of its doldrums of depression. A mention also has to go out to Fields Of Athenry and Sean South which, due to their being recorded live, have a lot more energy and fun in them. One can just hear the smile upon Colin’s face and catch the feeling of a slightly intoxicated audience dancing and swirling to the heart-warming sounds of these rare old mountain tunes.
In conclusion I would say that Colin O’Donnell’s Give Us An Aulo Solo is a pretty stock-standard attempt at a folk album. All of the track are decent enough and there are a few that really stand out, but, on the whole, it’s not anything particularly special apart from perhaps The Lonesome Boatman.
I couldn’t find any of the tracks I wanted to play from ‘Give Us An Aulo Solo’, but I did manage to find a clip of Colin O’Donnell performing live.