Off The Record by Mike Farragher
Orla Fallon's Land is a special one
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2011 at 12:56 PM
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Orla Fallon’s new CD and DVD, My Land, finds the former Celtic Woman member bringing her fans back to the place that started it all -- her native Ireland.
Fallon comes from the village of Knockananna in Co. Wicklow, and on My Land, an angelic, ethereal voice converges with supple harp playing and a lush orchestra to create a feel good evening of Celtic music.
It’s another bold stroke of a performance that keeps the elegant aesthetic fans of Celtic Woman know and love, yet offers a rootsier sound for those hungry for the homeland. Of course, leaving Celtic Woman was a huge risk for Fallon, but she’s a feisty one who loves a good challenge more than anything else.
“It opens doors for you on one end, because people like PBS would know you,” she says of her time with the show. “But essentially, you do start again. You go from these huge gigs at Radio City to doing small places on your own, so it’s a big adjustment.
“I have a band with me based out of Nashville and they are just great. It’s very raw and rootsy. We did two shows so far on the tour and everyone just loved it.
“We were in Boulder for the first time since I toured there with Celtic Woman, and I was a bit nervous if this show would be too much of a right turn for fans of that show. We were overwhelmed by the positive response! They had fits of dancing in the aisles and that’s what gives you a big boost.”
In the last year, Fallon has branched out with her own Christmas CD (named in the best of the year list I did in 2010) and appeared with Moya Brennan on the Welcome Home: The Music of Ireland documentary and CD.
“That was a thrill,” Fallon said of the documentary. “She was such a huge influence on me and such a great lady. I had worked with some of Moya’s uncles in Clannad in the past as well.
“It’s great doing all of these different things. I loved every minute of Celtic Woman, but now that I am on my own I love that you don’t know what’s around the corner. It’s a huge risk to walk away from something this successful, but I’m a big believer in seizing the day and just going for it.”
My Land plays on public TV this spring. It’s a winning combination of Fallon playing her favorite Irish music, with stunning visuals from the Irish countryside.
It’s a geographical and cultural celebration featuring the legendary Dubliners, Tommy Fleming, Damien Dempsey and the Dublin Gospel Choir. The show was shot on location throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, with a full-length concert taped in Dublin last September at the majestic Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK) in Dublin.
“You’re really nervous watching it for the first time,” she says of the show. “It’s the color of the scenery, the green moss of the stones and the beautiful blue water.
“The Irish countryside is a star of the DVD as well. I was so thrilled to see it play back and have this come out so well, because we all really poured all we had into it. There is a lot of joy and emotion in it and I am hoping people see that.”
Fallon’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” is resplendent, a tin whistle dropped in the middle to bring the folk classic into this Irish repertoire.
The Dubliners and Dempsey join her for “I’ll Tell Me Ma” and “Dirty Old Town.” The lads look like they just ambled out of the pub, in stark contrast to the evening gown their hostess is wearing.
It looks on the screen like a bridesmaid pub-hopping, yet credit must be given to Fallon for sharing her spotlight -- and the PBS audience --with deserving artists like Dempsey. It is a true crime that he is not bigger on this side of the Atlantic; let’s hope this broadcast changes all of that.
“He’s incredible and he is such a nice fellow and such a raw talent,” she gushes about Damo. “I was in my element in the middle of it -- I loved The Dubliners for years! I felt like such a little midget around such talent.
“What you saw was what you got. We really didn’t rehearse. We just went in and did it. I loved every second of it. You could tell with the wide goofy grin.””
Of course, Fallon is no slouch in the talent department -- or looks, for that matter. She looks positively radiant on the set, clearly a woman loving what she is doing. It is a pleasure to watch!
Fallon will be touring the U.S. and performing over 50 concert dates in 2011. For a full tour itinerary or to view clips of the performance, log onto orlafallon.net.