Click here for reviews of The Driftwood Manor - "Holy Ghost" e.p.

Click here for reviews of The Driftwood Manor - The Same Figure (leaving)

The Driftwood Manor "Dominican Black Abbey"

Enchanting "Dominican Black Abbey" is a six track collection of acoustic loveliness Featuring Eddie Keenan and a selection of friends including Neil Fitzgibbon whose fiddle adds a wonderful layer of emotion to the opening title track. On "I Could Sense a Violent Death" electric and acoustic guitars create a sombre atmosphere that matches the lyrical content, reminding me of Stone Breath in its dark approach. This dark approach remains throughout the disc with "Like Parting With Ghosts" using the sound of a Bouzouki to evoke a sense of loss, the fiddle again adding to the ache, a guitar splashing sound over the top creating another layer of atmosphere to one of my favourite tracks on the disc. Simpler in its construction, "Trees Shaped by the Wind" is a beautiful, haunting song that lingers in the mind, as does "The Blackest of Silks" another acid-folk classic that shines with elegant light, a rattling feedback driven electric guitar adding anger and bite to the track.. Finally "There are Signs" leads us out in a gentle procession, reminding me of Simon and Garfunkel reborn as wyrd-folk idols, rounding off another damn near perfect album that is as essential as the last.

The Driftwood Manor is fast becoming one of the household names for alternative folk in Ireland. I've never hidden my admiration for their previous releases, albums and EPs alike, and it doesn't surprise me that their latest little offering Dominican Black Abbey is no exception. Again released by Rusted Rail, these six tracks provide further proof of the songwriting talent of Eddie Keenan and his morphing band.
Compared to some of those earlier works, Dominican Black Abbey sounds a bit sparser; less layered vocal harmonies, no elaborate drones, etc. A bit of drifting electric guitar melodies provide some new sound as well. But the core is the same: voice, guitar, bouzouki, violin, and solid original compositions and lyrics that flow flawlessly along with the melodies. Listening to masterful tracks such as "Like Parting with Ghosts" or "The Blackest of Silks" should be enough to convince you.
The lyrics deserve some extra mention as well, being a lovely affair, an excellent traditional approach to rhythm and rhyme, and a thematic amalgamation of love stories, nature observation and landscapes, and dark touches of spirits and folklore. Surely deserving of a wider audience, here's another call from me to lend The Driftwood Manor your ears if you’re in any way interested in modern folk music. If you’re already a fan, you know what to do.
Evening of Light

It's a while since Rusted Rail have chucked some 3" CDs our way but this week three hit our saggy shelves. Much excitement! And if you're one of those people who buy 3" CDs to listen to (unlike me who tends to get them to lose as they're too bloody small) then you're in for a folky feast. The last Driftwood Manor album was actually a great album. It's still in reasonably regular rotation at home which is a good sign in my book! On this EP Eddie Keenan (main lord of The Driftwood Manor) is assisted by Bryan Higgins of Galway doom merchants Rites for a doomier edge and lo and behold there is a "doom edge" to it. Also helping out in this shifting musical collective is Annemarie Deacy from Mirakil Whip. Partayy!! Anyway if you're not familiar with this DM they make awesome traditional sounding Celtic-influenced folk music with an experimental tinge. They are largely always folk but they change and diversify somewhat on each release with this one being occasionally doomy. Though I've just listened to the stripped back 'Trees Shaped By The Winds' track three times in a row which is very much in the vein of Adrian Crowley and hasn't a sniff of doom about it. Excellent songwriting as ever.
Norman Records

Dominican Black Abbey, the new six track EP by The Driftwood Manor, is one of the most refreshing and engaging folk releases by an Irish artist in a long time. Although nominally a band, The Driftwood Manor is Athlone/Galway based singer-songwriter Eddie Keenan, who, on this work, is assisted by Neil Fitzgibbon (violin), Annemarie Deacy (vocals), and Bryan Higgins (guitar). While there are many great Irish folk songs and individuals who have done great things to keep them alive, there is the problem that we remain stuck with only a repertoire collected from the past with little new material added. As the great singer Mary McPartlan said: "For the whole traditional industry, it's time more new songs be composed. The world does not need any more versions of 'Black Is The Colour'. Nobody should be fearful of writing new songs in the folk idiom and there needs to be new people writing trad songs. This century needs to have something to pass on to the next generation." Eddie Keenan is one person rising to that challenge. What makes Keenan's songwriting so invigorating is that it pays homage to Irish folk's inventive 1970s era, without stooping to copy it. Rather Keenan seeks to learn from it so he can move forward with his own creativity, in the process producing something both recognisably folk and recognisably his own.

The EP starts with the rolling guitar arpeggios of the title track, and a gentle, sensitive vocal from Eddie but Dominican Black Abbey really starts to reveal itself with 'I Could Sense A Violent Death'.Here Eddie's mellow acoustic guitar figures and vocals are backed by the heavy, feedback drenched, guitar of Higgins (of Galway metal band Rites), creating a hypnotic effect and an accessible and harmonious mix of acoustic folk with alternative/avant-rock forms. This approach also works well on 'The Blackest Of Silks', where Higgins' guitar work is more psychedelic.

The most pure folk tracks, and the EP's highlights, are 'Like Parting With Ghosts' and the particularly magnificent 'Trees Shaped By The Wind'. It is here Eddie shows that not only is he steeped in the records of 1970s' folk, but more importantly he is animated by their creative spirit. Both songs show the potential he has to stand with more established artists who should also look at covering these songs.

Eddie is a hugely talented singer-songwriter, contributing to the on-going development of the folk tradition in Ireland, and it is these qualities that make Dominican Black Abbey a welcome, perhaps even important, release. Dominican Black Abbey was produced by Eddie and Keith Wallace. It is out now on the independent Galway label Rusted Rail.
Kernan Andrews, Galway Advertiser