“Just what the world needs: another bloody book about Ireland.” Maybe not the best way to start off a book about Irish music, but Colin Irwin seems to make it work. In his book In Search of the Craic: One Man’s Pub Crawl Through Irish Music, well-respected British music journalist Irwin sets out on a trip to discover Irish music in the present day and through his travels finds the etchings of the past in all modern playing. The difficulty in discovering Irish music, particularly traditional Irish music, is that other than the few exceptions of the Chieftains and Clancy Brothers, it is a music that remains hidden from the charts. To find the true soul of Irish music one was embark on the very kind of thirsty, rambunctious trip Irwin does: a pub crawl.

Touching the on legacy of Irish music giants like Seán Ó’Riada who built classical Western music sounds around traditional Irish songs all the way to the worldwide sensations of U2 and Enya, Irwin gives a solid history of the more modern musical journey of Ireland. His troubles finding certain artists or pinpointing origins of certain traditions bring the reader into the trip with his tension and release style of storytelling. It is an impossible feat to understand the evolution of Irish style or the X-factor that makes it so captivating, but as Irwin recognizes, the magic is often in the mystery. – Tara Dougherty (320 pages / Carlton Publishing Group)