Recently I needed to look for something in a drawer that contained master tapes and old notebooks. Then of course, I had to take a peak inside one of the books, and soon found my head exploding from reading ideas from the past, so many bloody ideas, some of which became important and most that didn’t. I noticed there were a few recurring themes that I just wouldn’t let go of. One of which I am finally deciding to do.
It was my Uncle Seamus who was always on to me about reworking old Irish folk songs, I didn’t think I was listening, but I was! In truth, Irish folk songs had always been a major influence – reworked versions of The Foggy Dew and Travelling People were a major part of our repertoire in Turner and Kirwan of Wexford. And it was spotted by others before it was by myself. For my debut album “It’s Only A Long Way Across” I remembered that there was a review in the New York Times by Stephen Holden, one of that paper’s most respected writers. In the review he implicitly refers to this. But at the time, I paid little attention to it, and thought the review underwhelming. So I dug it up to have another look, and was surprised to find that I not only liked it, but also that this insightful man had nailed down what I was doing that long ago, and not only did I not see it, but I also denied myself an apt description of my own music, something that has eluded me ever since.
So this is the album I propose to make for you. To take the great Irish folk songs of my youth and mould them into my own. My version of Dirty Old Town ended up being used in H.B.O’s The Wire, so who knows, maybe I have been looking a gift horse in the mouth. Some of you will have heard me perform the Wexford song “Bunclody” or the British Constabulary song “As I Roved Out” or the instrumental “Tabhair Dom Do Lamh”. I have also been working on new versions of “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore”, “The Curragh of Kildare”, “The Minstrel Boy”, “The Boston Burglar”, “The Holy Ground”, “Muirsheen Durkin”. If you can imagine them like Wicklow Hills, you might have an idea where I am going. I want the recording to flow smoothly and have a hypnotic quality as opposed to rambunctious, to float like a swan with an underbelly of paddling feet, a swan with a groove.
There aren’t too many reasons to make an album any more, in fact if I didn’t have you, I’m not sure it would be possible, or desirable. Doing an album this way, means that I am not alone, that you are with me from the start, that someone is not only waiting, but that they believe in the idea enough to have already invested in it. The cyber world has taken away a lot of income from artists like myself, but it has given me this, a replacement for the support of a record company. It’s a smaller world, but it is solid and real, not a house of straw built by a snotty A&R person who is in a bidding war with another snotty A&R person. I promise you that this will be an album to knit to, to read to, to eat to, to dream to, to lie in the tub to, to talk over, to party to and to make love to.
Here is an excerpt from Stephen Holden’s review in The New York Times of my first album:
“PIERCE TURNER, is an engaging pop composer and singer from Wexford, Ireland. Recently Mr. Turner recorded a solo album produced by Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi.
Mr. Turner’s newest music aligns two very different musical worlds. His songs feature old-fashioned narrative folk melodies with a strong Celtic flavor and chatty idiomatic lyrics, many of which remember Wexford with an affection bordering on sentimentality. In performance, Mr. Turner is more than just a chronicler of his home-town memories. He is a transplanted Irish folk vaudevillian who jubilantly evokes a high-spirited village ambiance, even jumping up on tables.
While the mating of Mr. Turner’s folksiness with contemporary electronics is an unusual marriage, it is successful. Mr. Turner’s best songs, such as ”Orange Coloured Sun,” ”How It Shone,” ”Wicklow Hills” and ”Groovy Hearts,” are substantial folk ballads with quirky lyrical images and the kind of whimsicality one associates with Ray Davies of the Kinks. But Mr. Turner is also such a strong melodist that the rhythm tracks underscore the songs’ majestic leanings. Today’s mechanized pop rhythms have tended to reduce pop melody to short chantlike phrases. Monday’s concert proved that such abbreviation need not be the rule.”