Liz Carroll and Jake Charron, Half Day Road
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Half Day Road
Liz Carroll and Jake Charron
Half Day Road
three words that smack of a musical adventure
The lively staccato of the title Half Day Road verbally parallels the energy and drive that Liz Carroll and Jake Charron bring musically to their first full-length collaborative album. Rooted firmly in the Irish traditional style, composed and interpreted by two uniquely North American artists, Half Day Road is more than just superb tunes and top-notch musicianship; it’s an exercise in how to progress along the continuum of Irish musical tradition, and how to work as contemporary artists within a traditional form. The blast of new music contained within the album rises to meet this challenge, creatively carrying Irish trad music to new destinations.
Carroll and Charron open the album with verve and vigor, tearing into the title track at a brazen clip. Shifting gears through the different tracks, the album winds its way with finesse through melodies that range from bright to lush to bittersweet. Beneath Charron’s rhythmic foundation of guitar and piano lies a shimmering bedrock of sound that grounds the album and allows Carroll’s fiddle notes to soar.
The album is comprised entirely of original compositions. Charron contributes a sweetly poignant solo piano track. In the remaining tracks, Carroll showcases her virtuosity and range as a composer. Using Irish reels, airs, and jigs as the bones of her compositions, she finds in their framework a source of infinite variation.
The album also welcomes fellow musical travelers Chico Huff (bass), Joanie Madden (tin whistle), and John Anthony (percussion).
Half Day Road speaks to the enduring power of Irish traditional music — in composition, in play, and moving forward.
Liz Carroll and Jake Charron
photo by Robert Hakalski
A native of Chicago’s South Side, internationally acclaimed fiddler and composer Liz Carroll is one of Irish music’s brightest stars. Her talent and dedication to her craft have earned her a National Heritage Fellowship; a Grammy nomination; and the Gradam Ceoil TG4 Composer of the Year award, honoring her contributions to the repertoire of Irish music. Liz has toured as a solo artist and with the Greenfields of America, Trian, as the duo Liz Carroll & John Doyle, String Sisters, and now as a duo with guitarist and pianist Jake Charron.
From Barrie, Ontario, piano and guitar player Jake Charron has established himself as a world-class accompanist for Celtic music. His contemporary Canadian-Celtic trio, the East Pointers, won the JUNO Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year in 2017. He was also nominated for a Canadian Folk Music award for his duo album with Shane Cook called Head to Head, and with Nova Scotia’s Troy MacGillivray, earned an East Coast Music Award for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year for the album, When Here Meets There.
The "Half Day Road" Reviews
Sean Smith of the Boston Irish Reporter mentions and praises most every track, and ends with the last tune, Liz's Trail Magic, wrapping up his "Half Day Road" review with a welcome connection: "Charron’s guitar pounds out the beat as Carroll churns through the melody, the B part spiraling to a crescendo and back again until, at the fade-out, she plays a variation as a repeating riff – it’s like some magnificent sunset at the end of an immensely satisfying day."
Songlines Magazine's Rob Adams writes of Liz and Jake, "They're a formidable team, opening with a set showcasing Carroll's sinewy momentum and lithe expressiveness accompanied by Charron's judicious guitar and piano. Carroll plays with an inherent joyfulness... [together] expertly reinvigorating Irish music."
Jim Byrne's review for The Living Tradition, concludes with "The opening track Heath And Bernie's / Half Day Road / Tune For Jim DeWan is an absolute belter with more energy than anyone should be able to deliver with a fiddle. There's not a bad track on this album - be it jigs, reels, old-timey style tunes or lovely slow airs, every one is worth another listen or ten! This is a gem of an album with many great tunes which will undoubtedly last the test of time and will propagate themselves throughout the tradition. If you're a fiddle fan, buy it – you won't regret it!"
Daniel Neely of The Irish Echo, March 18, 2019, “But the thing that’s most striking about this album is the sheer virtuosity of the musicianship. Carroll plays with rare drive and sensitivity and has a partner in Charron who is well able to match her energy. And there are some ear-popping moments that stand out above and beyond some already very impressive music. I think, for example, of the quick cuts and the freedom she seems to have as she moves up the fingerboard on “The Bird” and the fire she wields in “Save the Ham” as she swoops in and out of the groove. It’s just breathtaking.”
Steve Horowitz of PopMatters writes "What is astonishing is the fact that Carroll's songwriting and playing continue to improve. Her latest recording, Half Day Road, a collaboration with Canadian pianist/guitarist Jake Charron, shows her at the peak of her talents... Charron does a fine job of accompanying her and offering a counterpart to her work. The two North Americans take Irish traditional music into the future by enhancing its distinctive features and making it fresh and contemporary."
More "Half Day Road" Reviews
Phillippe Cousin, writing for the French website 5planetes.com, highlights the compositions: "These two North Americans with Irish origins offer us a superb album Half Day Road, superb both for the music it conveys and for the cover that is due to the talent of the artist Sean Scully... As a violinist and composer, Liz Carroll has always, through her creativity and talent, brought traditional Irish music into her time. It does not derogate from this rule by offering us eleven original compositions, the twelfth title being the work of Jake Charron... a delicate lullaby Last of the Leaves for his little girl born last autumn. Beautifully beautiful... [It's]A new success to the credit of a leading artist, recognized in both the United States and Ireland."
Maryann McTeague Keifer for Irish American News, March 2019 issue, calls it "a musical masterpiece that will find us listening to, being in awe of, and replaying for years to come... Half Day Road is special; it is a treasure."
FolkWorld's Thomas Keller highlights the Liz and Jake musical relationship writing "... she delivers the goods herself being a spirited performer on the four horsestrings... Jake Charron is the firm ground for Liz Carroll's frolics, where she displays her instrumental skills with both groove and sensibility."
Alex Monaghan for Irish Music Magazine, May 2019 issue, compliments both Liz and Jake Charron with many humbling compliments (Jake gets "bounce and brilliance," Liz "vitality and verve"), but he ends with "Half Day Road is essentially fiddle and guitar, both stunningly well played... This CD is definitely a candidate for my 2019 Top Ten."
- 12/28/2019 announcement, "Alex Monaghan's Traditional Top Ten 2019"