An All–Ireland senior champion in various categories on pipes, flute and saxophone, Richard Neylon should be a familiar name. Neylon’s playing is memorable too, old style, grand tunes, big sets of powerful piping, and a few flute pieces to lighten the mix.
I’m not sure if An Buailteoir Aerach refers to a hurler or a beater, but either way it’s a belter of a reel to open this debut album. Catalina is a much gentler track, the flute intro layered with pipes and saxophone on Maurice Lennon’s Waltz. Richard also provides drums, with accordion from Stephen Doherty and fiddle from Fiachra Hayes. More reels, including Finbarr Dwyer’s Hollybush and the great old Cameronian, really show off the pipes in a flowing yet rhythmic performance, a touch of wildness combined with some tight closed fingering and staccato triplets.
The pace and control are exciting, exhilarating, and the accompaniment from Conor Early drives the tunes along. Relaxed low whistle delivers a gorgeous version of The Kilnamona Barndance, and I’d have kept the pipes and sax back until the punchy shift into Lucy Farr’s. Neylon does a fine job of being a one–man Irish skiffle band in the vein of At the Racket, sticking a snappy Jim Ward’s Jig on the end for good measure.
Having run through most of the colours in his repertoire on the concert pipes, Richard switches to a Rogge low B set for a pair of classic piping jigs, regulators and drones providing the only accompaniment, a real virtuoso performance in the bygone style of fairground pipers. And then round we go again: a set of reels, the slow air An Spéic Seoigheach, three very familiar slip jigs with concertina from James Frawley, plus a few more reels and jigs.
The title piece is by Neylon, perhaps combining his Irish and jazz influences, and starts a trio of jigs with a more modern feel and a surprise ending on the old favourite known variously as Father O’Flynn or The Top of the Cork Road.
On the other hand, the final lament Cumha Mhichil Breathnaigh on solo pipes is stately and moving, a wonderful piece of piping and a melody, which will stay with me I’m sure. Look out for the name Richard Neylon, and expect great things.
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 55 Minutes