Alan Doyle – Back To The Harbour
As lead singer of the folk-rock Newfoundland band Great Big Sea, & singing since 1993, Alan Doyle has dabbled with solo projects since his first 2012 LP Boy On Bridge. With Back To The Harbour (Drops May 21/Skinner’s Hill/Warners Music Canada) Doyle continues in the tradition of Great Big Sea with some personal touches.
This effort is not a full album but a striking 6-song EP that maintains his quality consistently with an energetic fusion that carries over to his own personal efforts. Songs that are part of his language.
“Into the Arms of Home,” is a beautifully rendered that I find only English, Irish & Canadian artists seem to explore more widely than their American counterparts. Paul Hyde (The Payolas) a few years ago released a song called “I Miss My Mind the Most,” & was riveting & emotional. I find the same power & beauty here with Doyle.
Unlike the more raucous Dropkick Murphy’s, Black 47, & the classic Pogues, Doyle’s approach has always had lift but never an assault. They have exciting driven moments, but the aggression was under control. They were political, but their finest moments for me were on songs like “When I’m Up (I Can’t Get Down),” performed equally well by the writers of the song The Oysterband.
Doyle continues with a duet on the title song “Back to the Harbour,” that is another beauty. Fiddle driven with gentle acoustic guitar touches. Filled with sincerity & a memorable melody. Is this pop music? No, not at all. It’s a contribution to the ever-flowing well of songs that are or become traditional.
“Leave Her Johnny,” is another well-performed cut as is a cover of the classic “Let It Be Me,” that in the hands of Alan Doyle is exceptional with piano & fiddle surrounding his heart-wrenching tone & backup singers.
Alan (bouzouki/accordion), Joel Plaskett (producer/guitar/mandola/charango/vocals), Kendel Carson (fiddle/vocals), Cory Tetford (guitar/piano/accordion/vocals), & Tom Doyle (guest vocals). Recorded in Nova Scotia the closing tune is the acapella “Dream of Home,” that while simply showcases voices it’s well-done.
The 26-minute CD is available at https://alandoyle.ca/