Irish Edition (US)
Dylan Walshe, from Dublin and now based in Nashville, is a powerful singer-songwriter. This album, recorded in Nashville, features 10 songs, plus two alternative versions, for 40 minutes of thought provoking, excellent entertainment. There's great maturity in his lyrics and a distinct catchiness in his melodies, which leaves you hanging on his words as you are enveloped in the tunes.
Helping create the atmosphere is a handful of musicians: Walshe plays guitar and harmonica and he is joined by Evan Penza, Stephen Harms, Jake Stargel, John Mailander, Andy Gibson, James Fearnley, Chris Compton, Micah Hulscher and Cody Martin. Arrangements are built around Walshe's powerful voice, a baritone with great warmth and emotion in his sound.
At times, things are laid back, as on "The Trickle-Down Effect," with just his voice, finger-picked guitar and a bass. The effect is hypnotic. But one has to be careful - this is not a gentle song, as the lyrics talk about politics and what is going on in society. He can also really rock and take you out of your comfort zone, such as the desperate "Cut It Down" (Listen to the wild fiddle and guitar on this!) And I just love the intimacy of a track like "Lady Lee".
For me, Dylan Walshe has taken up the reins from the likes of Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt, with poignant, poetic lyrics and memorable tunes set on fitting accompaniments. I really look forward to hearing more from him.
Over the years many things have attained mythical status, an honest politician, £350 million a week for the NHS, Excalibur, dragons and a full Dylan Walshe studio album to name but a few. Fortunately, that last one has moved from mythical status into a list marked legendary.
I first met Dylan through the late lamented Bob's Folk Show, even sharing a studio with him on one occasion. That lead to me putting out a track "Your Belly Not Mine" on the Spring 12 Fatea Showcase Session:Walking, which I think I'm right in saying was his first release.
So who is Dylan Walshe? Well that's a difficult one, the facts are easy, Dublin born singer-songwriter, troubadour, poet. He's a musical traveller that has attracted a genuine cult following that have ensured his sporadic releases have always reached an audience, arguably not the one that a talent of his size deserves, but there has been many a literary legend that have had that litany only to be feted by the mainstream when the mainstream catches up.
As a writer and performer, Walshe has a way with words that is difficult to under estimate. If James Joyce had also been a guitar picker, it's possible "Ulysses" would have been condensed into a single album. Fortunately, Joyce wasn't an axe man, to my knowledge and that has left the path open for Dylan Walshe to deliver an opus that, may or may not be up there with "Ulysses", but is definitely the portrait of an artist.
"All Manner Of Ways" is ten tracks, twelve if you count a couple of remixes at the end, that are pure poetry, both in the lyric and delivery. I had expected this to be a stripped back album of man and guitar, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that Walshe had made the decision to add additional musicians to the album, a choice that was right on the mark as John Mailander's fiddle contribution shows on "Where Dublin Meets Wicklow".
These are living and breathing songs, some of which were on the previous live album, all with their own character. A listen to "The Trickle-Down Effect", quickly reveals an impact that twelve thousand marchers might not, but both have a time and place.
And, so far, I've not really mentioned Dylan Walshe the guitarist. He doesn't waste a word or even a vowel in his lyrics, similarly not a note or chord goes astray in his playing. It may not be the most dynamic playing you'll hear, but you can feel the quality as it rolls off the strings.
When Christy Moore, describes you as a wordsmith, it sets a very high bar, lesser performers may be intimidated by that, for Dylan Walshe it doesn't seem like false praise. I wasn't under selling it when I said that "All Manner Of Ways" makes the move from mythical to legendary..
FOLK & TUMBLE (Northern Ireland)
'All Manner Of Ways’ is the new album from Dublin-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe. Christy Moore holds him in high esteem. He recently opened for Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmmasters. Guests on the album include James Fearnley of The Pogues, and Andy Gibson of Hank Williams III – indicators that he is swiftly curating kudos among contemporaries.
"Dylan’s a fine wordsmith and a fair chanter. It does my heart good to hear him sing. Love his voice and the way he’s using it." Christy Moore
Recorded in East Nashville, where he currently resides, this is the sound of Dylan’s journey, from Dublin to Tennessee, “a record and artist steeped in tradition, but with a mind of its own”.
I am reminded of our own Northern singer-songwriters Matt McGinn and Ben Glover; the latter also Nashville based, drawing on the theme of the Irishman making waves across the sea, but with the imprint of “home” on his soul.
Interestingly, it is the sea that takes form and becomes a feature. I am reminded at times of The Waterboys, with the lilting, moodiness of instrumental melody; its ebb and flow.
The opening track ‘Blind is Blind’ may or may not be a tribute to the sea, but is a robust song, and with a rough charm we hear the Dublin brogue come through.
‘At Sea’ is simply a beautiful song. It’s the lyrics on the CD booklet that reveal this to be a laid bare dialogue between father and son (an intriguing discovery which doesn’t come across on first hearing), seeking answers to the big metaphysical, existential questions.
In fact, the lyrics booklet is a work of art in itself, with stunning, dramatic black and white photography all taken by the artist – another of Dylan’s talents clearly.
The full gamut of the human condition is explored in one way or another in ‘All Manner Of Ways’, which didn’t come across at first. However after several listens themes emerge, poetically expressed.
‘Luck Is A Beggar, Luck Is A King’ addresses gambling, alcohol, addiction; expressed as “elastic honesty” in the covert search for our own truth.
Dylan Walshe has a great voice – deep, textured, multi-layered – and its richness comes across nowhere better than in ‘Ruined’, combined with harmonica and fiddle.
Reminiscent of a life full-lived on the edge, close to ruination but salvation is always an option. Skilled and beautiful.
Two songs on this album of ten original tracks offer up alternative versions – ‘Same Old Prayer’ and ‘Where Dublin Meets Wicklow’. The latter, in particular, deserves special mention, for both versions.
It’s one of those songs that resonates, gets under your skin. It is a love song laid bare, through subtle poetry, torn between the only place that’s home, and the next best place, Tennessee.
Amidst the alcohol, the side-effects of a life on the road and the musician’s Achilles, there is a deep-grained nod to being brought up quaintly among the rosary beads and blind faith of what was Catholic Ireland.
Possibly the most important song on this album is ‘ The Trickle-Down Effect’. It’s political in terms of the hate and fear being perpetuated across continents, an ill wind that blows.
And the trickle-down effect is truly here. They said it would be money, but its just hate and fear.
Here, here! Well said.
Finally, ‘Death Dance’ is lively, fluid, remotely morbid, maybe apocalyptic – a sort of shamanistic nod to the ancient and the tribal, with dreams, curses, ravens and bone rattles in tune.
Albie Arts & Music Media (UK)
Why have I not heard of this guy before?!
From the first few notes of the first track Blind is Blind, I was smiling and settling into my folky comfort zone usually reserved for the likes of The Waterboys or The Chieftains (yes the musicianship is that good) and then the vocals started… and this is NOT the voice I was expecting but, by God, it works. What I was expecting was a light, bright, heavily brogued Irish voice that skipped around the tune while never quite hitting the mark. Think about how Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey would sound if it could sing. That. Instead, what I got is a deep, dark, velvety, proper Irish draft Guinness of a voice. Rich, rounded, complex and ever so smooth but still with a hint of a bite. Imagine Hozier singing time-honoured Irish folk songs with a Nashville country band and you have it. It just absolutely blew me away.
Once I got over the shock of the unexpected and had adjusted my musical tastebuds, so to speak, I went back to the album. And there’s not a bad track on here. I find it amazing that these are all new and original compositions because they have the weight of tradition behind them. You could easily imagine them being sung somewhere in Ireland, in an impromptu bar jam session, since time immemorial because everybody should already know the words and tunes. The Nashville country edge does creep through now and again, especially in Luck is a Beggar, Luck is a King, but that is no bad thing at all. There are up-tempo tracks and melancholy ballads, all filled to the brim with meaningful lyrics; The Trickle-Down Effect gives Pete Seeger a run for his money as far as protest songs go. And, as I said at the start, the musicianship is also wonderful, combining country steel guitar with Irish fiddles is just a sublime noise. I loved the harmonica on Ruined too, which gave it a bluesy tone.
My absolute favourite track on the album has to be Death Dance, though with Cut It Down running a close second. The fiddles on both reminded me so much of The Devil Went Down to Georgia (in a good way) and the use of minor grace-notes gave me shivers (also in a good way).
So, in among the barrage of generic, festive gift shopping suggestions, here is my special recommendation. Buy Dylan Walshe’s music for everyone. They’ll thank you for it, in All Manner of Ways.
RnR Magazine (UK)
I've watched and listened as Dylan Walshe has developed over the last few years. He learned his trade at home in the Dublin area before settling in London for a while and now has found a new life and love in Nashville, and honed his trade, taking his roots-based singer-songwriter sound to large audiences as opening act for Flogging Molly in the U.S.
'All Manner Of Ways' is his long-awaited debut studio album, which reflects the bumps and burns along the road. Engrossing opener 'Blind Is Blind' is a universal tale of love gone awry, perfectly paced and with fiddle and banjo adding colour though never overwhelming.
The fact that he has Pogues accordion player James Fearnley guesting speaks volumes for Walshe's reputation as a songwriter of style and substance. And when the two combine, on arguably the album's stand-out track, the autobiographical love song 'Where Dublin Meets Wicklow', alongside a superb core recording unit including John Mailander on fiddle, Evan Penza on electric guitar and bass and Chris Compton on drums, it's particularly special.
Elsewhere, 'Same Old Prayer' combines elements of the Celtic soul of Van Morrison and the gritty blue-collar rock of Springsteen, while 'The Trickle-Down Effect' channels 60's folk and contemporary protest, and 'Luck Is A Beggar, Luck Is A King' is the nearest he gets to Americana, though nailing it with a mighty swagger.
A not-so-everyday story of Country (and) Folk …
Country music’s roots lie in part in European folk music, so who better to explore those connections than Irish-born, Nashville-resident Dylan Walshe. All Manner Of Ways’ ten original tracks use a mix of instrumentation to interweave both threads: melancholic lilting fiddle overlays twangsome guitar in Blind Is Blind, the atmospheric Ruined features low cello rumbles, eerie violin chords and harmonica underpinned by loose bodhran-like kick drum, while the foot-stomping mountain (Mourne or Blue Ridge) music of Death Dance is a fluid fiddle-led reel with celtic-flavoured electric guitar and mandolin.
More Appalachia-via-Kerry flavours come in At Sea’s multi-guitar filigree finger-picking while Where Dublin Meets Wicklow blends airy fiddle-laced folk rock with a squeezebox and Telecaster Tex-Mex vibe, and more squeezebox adds a borderline feel to the more conventional chiming tele, walking bass and rim-shots of Same Old Prayer. Luck Is Beggar, Luck Is King sees lush pedal steel sweeps and trills over an off-kilter beat evoke Fire On The Mountain covered by The Chieftains.
Dylan’s idiosyncratic stentorian vocal ranges from folk-meets-new wave plaints to It’s Too Late To Stop Now soul (particularly in Same Old Prayer and Where Dublin Meets Wicklow) and even John Martynesque tones in the protest of The Trickle-Down Effect and in Cut It Down, where Dylan’s striking call-to-arms vocal tops an unexpected-progression Western ballad with intertwining multi-layered fiddle and guitar textures. The final track returns to folkier fare with vox and finger-picked guitar joined just by spare fiddle lines for a simple heartfelt close.
Having a foot in both camps could have been an uncomfortable stretch but Dylan manages to straddle the genres with ease, creating his own.
Old Style Music Nights (Belgium)
HEAR YE, HEAR YE!!! It has finally arrived!!!
The debut studio album by Dylan Walshe sure took some time to be unleashed onto the world. Was it worth the long wait? Yes! Yes it was!
Most of our readers know who Dylan is and what his songs sound like and what emotions they trigger. If you have not heard any of the songs on this album you are in for a surprise. Dylan being a solo artist, we were all used to hearing or seeing just him, his guitar and stompbox on stage. For this album he worked together with very talented friends to give the songs a more full sound and body. Drums, bass, fiddle… It’s all there. And my dear readers, each and every song sounds beautiful.
For this debut album Dylan re-recorded some of his older songs, crowd favorites so to say. And to be honest, “Blind is Blind” has never sounded so good. Did the style change that much you may ask? Yes and no, I think with this album Dylan steps away a little from the bluesy folk sound we know him for and adopts a more mature singer-songwriter style. If you take a listen to “Luck is a beggar..”, with it’s wonderful slide-guitar parts you will understand what I’m trying to say.
Like any good singer-songwriter or folk album, this one has a protest song. With “The Trickle-Down Effect” the wordsmith that is Dylan Walshe shines in all his glory. No this is not a “fist in the air” protest song, this is a “sit down, think, plan your next move” kinda protest song. The music is slow, simple and effective, Dylan’s voice is the main instrument here and what a powerful voice it is.
The album will be released next week, on October 26th, by Dylan himself. Follow the link below to pre-order your copy. For the vinyl snobs like myself, there will be a release on wax later on.
It angers me a little that an artist with his quality can not get the support of a label while there is so much crap being released each day… But we’ll leave that conversation for the pub, while getting shitfaced..
The Alternate Root (USA)
Dylan Walshe (from the album All Manner of Ways)
The bitterness of Guiness Stout that gives the liquid thickness, the words of Dylan Walshe bear a heartiness of tone, providing a deep soul-search for both author and listener. The ale and the songman share a point of origin, both starting out in Dublin, Ireland, each leaving home to take on the world, Dylan Walshe landing in Tennessee, recording his recent release 'All Manner of Ways' in his new base of East Nashville. Dylan finds himself ‘close to blind faith’ as he grips the story with the same determination as the steadily rising sonics of “Cut It Down” while he views both sides of the coin in “Luck is the Beggar, Luck is a King”. 'All Manner of Ways' lives darker days in “Same Old Prayer” joined by James Fearnley of The Pogues, the accordion player returning when Dylan Walshe nostalgically hints at home with a wistful Irish lilt to the melody that glides through “Where Dublin Meets Wicklow”.
A brotherhood of Irish music gathers around Dylan Walshe. He played his first gig in his new home of Nashville with Spider Stacy of The Pogues on St. Patrick’s Day at Music City’s Nashville Palace, meeting Flogging Molly and joining the band on the Irish Punk band’s music cruise through the Bahamas as well their 2017 tour alongside The White Buffalo. Lush strings and heavy drumbeats lap at the thick bass rhythm that flows underneath “At Sea” as 'All Manner of Ways' moodily points a finger in “Blind is Blind”, sinking deeper into somber confessions for “Ruined” as Dylan Walshe twirls strings and beats around “Death Dance”.