Music reviews: recently released albums from Irish and Irish-American artists


Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband consists of Corkmen Máirtín de Cógáin on vocals and bodhrán and Jimmy Crowley on vocals, bouzouki, dordán, guitar, mandolin and keybords, two balladeers who came forth in the fall of 2009 with Soldier’s Songs: The Irish Abroad and Soldiering. Consisting of sixteen songs and an insert with fascinating historical notes, Soldier’s Songs takes the listener through significant moments in the American Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, World War I and others, emphasizing not only how ballads tell the story of past events but their role as tools for social change.

Soldier’s Songs is full of thoughtfully chosen and emotionally performed ballads that create an eclectic collection, but some stand out above the rest. “Who Knows Where the Wind Blows” tells the moving tale of two brothers on opposing sides of the American Civil War, written by Tommy Sands of Co. Down. “María de la Rosa,” which includes a gorgeous chorus sung partly in Spanish, honors the Irishmen in the International Brigade who participated in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and fascism in the 1930s. Soldiers’ Songs is available through   

– Kara Rota