This is the first singer/songwriter to make the Copperplate web site. We consider this to be a very important recording. Which heralds the arrival of a very important artist.
Tony Reidy is a man who has spent his life close to the land and its nature. It documents the plight of the people who work the land in Ireland, and maybe the plight of those people all over the world.
The Country Man:
The Coldest Day in Wtnter:
The Mountain Man:
- The Country Man
- Like A Wild Thing
- Draiodoir Dubh
- The Coldest Day in Winter
- Black Pudding Music
- The Mountainy Man
- Woman Sitting in a Dark Café
- Cul an ti
Taplas June/July The Welsh Folk Magazine
Tony Reidy's debut CD is definitely one that grows on you.
Having heard his song, Like A Wild Thing on Ceide's album of the same name,
I was interested to see what his other songs are like.
There's certainly a great variety. He introduces us to a gallery of characters like,
The Mountainy Man, Kitonga Mwanzia from Keyna and the Latin crooner on Black Pudding Music.
His guitar playing is reminiscent of Nic Jones in places. On some tracks he's helped out by members of Ceide, while Pat Early Quartet provide string arrangements on a couple of tracks and co-producer David Munnelly, whose own CD is well worth checking out, adds accordion and keyboards. Nick Passmore
Pay The Reckoning April 2002
Pay The Reckoning first became aware of Tony Reidy via Ceide whose first album, Like A Wild Thing, derived its name from their version of Reidy's starkly beautiful song. We raved about it then (see here) and therefore when we learned that Reidy had brought out an album, we wasted no time in getting our hands on a copy.
This is not an easy album! It's a bloody good album, by a songwriter on top of his craft. A unique vision, a unique voice. But the album is no breezy listen. No middle-of-the-road. It's challenging. Moody. Brooding. Not all the time. But an air of melancholy informs the album's key moments.
And before friends of Pay The Reckoning start making assumptions that "The Coldest Day In Winter" is a traditional album, then we have to warn you. Irish it most certainly is! Traditional it most certainly isn't. Musically there are a lot of reference points on the album - trad is one of them, of course. But there are echoes of Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, John Martyn, John Prine, Guy Clark. There are ghostly echoes of other songwriters who are able to capture, with a few words and a decent tune, some of the essence of their, our, someone's or everyone's life experience. These are Reidy's peers. He can write songs with the best of them!
The fact is that Reidy has such a way with words that we wondered how he could craft tunes to do them justice. Before we had a chance to play the CD, Pay The Reckoning sat down, read the lyric sheet and revelled in Reidy's attention to detail. We pondered how he reveals the whole picture through focusing on the fine images that the unobservant might miss. For example, a verse from the album's opener, "The Country Man". "The country man is happy/With the dew on the top of his boots/And the stems of last year's thistles/Crunching beneath his steps/The country man is happy/He can jump over the gate/He can kneel down and smell primroses/He is not minding his clothes"
"The Country Man" leads into the exquisite "Like A Wild Thing". In a great album, this song nevertheless shines like a beacon. The lyrics are quite different from those on Ceide's album, the imagery even more intense, with even more of the high lonesome quality which stirs Pay The Reckoning's soul. For example "Farewell to sheep's wool on barbed wire fences/To the blackthorn, the whitethorn, the frogs in the ditches/Farewell to my jumper that has the blue stain/I now wear a suit, I sit at a chair". Reidy's delivery is easy, conversational, though there's little doubt that he feels intensely the pain of separation that he describes. The listener can only agree that this suburbanisation, this divorce between people and the land, between people and their islands and their inland fishing areas, is one of the tragedies of the Irish experience. A tragedy which wasn't confined to the post-Independence years when the Blaskets and the Mayo Islands and other west coast islands were cleared, but which is a process which continues in the present.
Draiodoir Dubh, Reidy's hymn to a wide-eyed, credulous childhood, is followed by Kitonga - a song to a young Kenyan lad whose photo adorns Reidy's wall. It exposes the gulf between a rose-tinted image of wild Africa and the harsh reality. Reidy asks naive questions on all our behalfs. Kitonga answers - matter of factly - "I can't hear birds when my stomach's empty/I can't see beauty when the crops are ruined/I can only hear my brother crying/I see my family search for food".
"Sometimes" - a piano-driven vignette which features restrained clarinet courtesy of Kevin Walsh- contains the superb image "Sometimes the world spins at the right speed/And I'm at the same speed too".
Which leads us to the title track. A Cohenesque ballad whose bedrock of straightforward acoustic guitar is enlivened by Reidy's mandolin playing and accordion wizardry courtesy of either David Munnelly or Tom Doherty. The song opens at Old Joe's funeral where two lovers meet. Drinks are taken, "Our shopping bags fell drunk on the floor" and an old spark is rekindled.
Black Pudding Music is a wry tale of a musician whose dream is to play swing or bossanova, who "... prefers Andy to Hank". (NB Pay The Reckoning prefer Hank to Andy ... but we sympathise with the lad's plight!) Instead he wastes his life playing "black pudding music". But when the night's over he "... has a few beers and he hums his way back into his dreams."
The revelation of the album is "The Mountainy Man". This is a song whose insights are on a par with those of "Like A Wild Thing". Here, Reidy demonstrates his deep affection for, and understanding of, the wild characters who (thank Christ!) still abound in the bleak and hilly hinterlands. "He had his own outlook on life/It wasn't always right/Sean nos mixed with alcohol/Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits". And then later "Sometimes he was beautiful/In the bogs on heathery days". And the song's clincher (and a distillation of Reidy's sensibilities) "Sometimes love comes down the hill/When he allows it in/And he prays to God or something/And the mountains are at peace".
Woman Sitting In A Dark Cafe - a song inspired, it would appear, by a painting or photograph which Reidy glimpsed in a visit to Amsterdam is followed by the plaintive Cul An Ti.
The album closes with the gentle, elegant "Aphrodite", whose last verse is a fitting farewell from the man himself "Soon we'll fly away/From this burning sun o'er the waves/On Mweelrea hills/The clouds will fill with grey".
Reidy has assembled an exceptional cast of fellow-musicians to help him out with "The Coldest Day In Winter". As well as those mentioned above are Brian Lennon (low whistle/vocals), Kevin Doherty (double bass), Pat Gaughan (percussion) and the Pat Early Quartet (strings). Expect to see some of these songs make their way into the repertoires of big-name artists in the near future.
John ORegan's Review.
Tony Reidy's name first came to notice from Like a Wild Thing the title track of north Leitrim band; Ceide's debut album reviewed enthusiastically in these pages, some time ago.
Coming from a farming background in Co.Sligo, Tony Reidy is well acquainted with rural life, and a strong sense of communal experience emerges from his material.
His second album, The Coldest Day in Winter reveals a sharp concise lyrical talent with a nose for detail and a forthright vocal delivery.
The Country Man and Like A Wild Thing offer two diverse accounts of rural life the former a vivid word picture depicting a farmer content in his role as provider and man of the earth while the latter depicts a common scene in recent Irish life with small farms closing down forcing many young farmers to make their life working in cities. Like A Wild Thing captures a computer programmer whose heart is elsewhere and the helplessness of his condition I feel like a wild thing trapped in a snare.
Otherwise, Kitonga a pen to an adopted child in Africa and Woman Sitting in a Dark Café haunt different inspirational boats while the humerous, Black Pudding Music depicts the pub and wedding musician's lot.
The ghosts of fellow Irish songwriters Mick Hanley and Mickey McConnell occasionally scurry through Tony Reidy's vocabulary, but the results are finely wrought songs of substance and life experience.
The Coldest Day in Winter is a pleasant aural surprise unveiling a highly promising Irish songwriting talent. John O'Regan
Aidan O'Hara, Irish Music Mag
"He had his own outlook on life/ It wasn't always right/ Sean nos mixed with alcohol/ Bruce Springstein and Tom Waits." Well, whatever about the alcohol and the mix he refers to in his song, The Mountainy Man, singer/songwriter Tony Reidy's own general mix of material and music styles is a wonderful assortment altogether. Indeed, those lines quoted might just be about himself - he is the mountainy man, observing the quirky world from his hillside cottage.
Speaking of quirky - the songs listed on the back cover and in the CD notes are not in the usual order from 1 to 11, but are scattered around the pagein a random, shuffled order. Perhaps he's saying, "Here's a few ould songs I put together. You can listen to them in any order you want." Most of Tony Reidy's song/poems are a quiet meandering through 'life's rich tapestry', with here and there a sharp comment on some of the harsher realities of life.
In his song, The Country Man, the first line of every verse is "The country man is happy," and the pictures are of lambs racing round the walls, and the smell of whins in the nostrils; but in the following song Like a Wild Thing he parodies the subject of the title - the country man's new state — which sadly is worse than the first; he has gone to the big smoke where he gets a job sitting in front of a computer: "Farewell to the land where I grappled with stones/ Farewell to the hills (where) I got soaked to the bone ..." And
having second thoughts, he realises that maybe he has sold his birthright for a mess of pottage: "...farewell to my place/ To make a living I must sit at a chair."
All the songs but one (Seán Ó Ríordáin's "Cúl a' Tí) are Tony's. He is a gifted painter of word pictures, and a dab hand at fitting lyrics to a well structured tune; his guitar playing style is uniquely his own, and his playing weaves around word and melody as effortlessly as Mississippi blues singer's - most appealing. He is well served by his backing musicians, Brian Lennon, David Munnelly, and not least, by the Pat Early quartet. Looking for a song to sing on your next album? You could find a gem or two on Tony's new CD. Aidan O'Hara His songs have been likened to "Paddy Kavanagh, embellished with stark guitar arrangements" by The Irish Times. His work first came to our notice when his classic song "Like A Wild Thing" was used by the Mayo group, Ceide as their title track of their Copperplate album. The band and many local musicians have helped Tony in the recording of this his first recording. We would ask you to please listen to the sound bites on this page, just click on the underlined titles in the track listing section.
Tony Reidy was born in Aughagower near Westport, Country Mayo in the wild west of Ireland. Aughagower is an historic village where Pagans walked and St Patrick followed on his way to climb Croagh Patrick.
He was reared on a small farm and his songwriting is very close to the soil.
He still remembers when he first heard Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone; he was the boy in the gap on his father's farm.
He also remembers Sweeney's Men who brought Irish, English and American old timey music together in one brilliant piece of vinyl.
Tony was always interested in writing and bits his own poetry were always making their way onto his maths copybook.
Later as an engineering student in Galway in the early seventies he met up with Johnny Mulherne (songs, Mattie/ Hard Cases/ Continental Ceili were recorded by Christy Moore and Mary Coughlan) and Tommy Healy both musicians and songwriters.
But, it was not until on a holiday with fellow musician and writer, John Hoban in Istanbul in 89, that Reidy met Mulherne again and his muses were awakened. He's been writing songs ever since then.
Recently his classic song, Like A Wild Thing was used as the title for the debut recording of the amazing Ceide, a group of musicians who came together as the house band in Matt Molly's bar in Westport.
This finally lit the Reidy fuse and with the lads, Tony went into the studio to record this his first CD.
Now dear listener, you have the fruits of the mans work in your hands. We feel sure you will enjoy it, and we all look forward to more of his works.