Whileaways: In All Honesty — A finely honed collection of pastoral whispers

The trio’s weighty fourth album would at times benefit from more edge

In All Honesty
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Artist: The Whileaways
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent release

The Whileaways have taken stock over the past few years and produced a weighty fourth album, laden with thought-provoking songs about love, loss, family, friendship and the sheer joy of keeping good company.

The precious minutiae of life find purchase in the smallest corners of their songs. Resilience, survival and the passing of the baton from one generation to another are just some of the themes that resonate through these 12 songs, with writing credits shared by all. Nicola Joyce and Noriana Kennedy’s complementary but distinct voices weave those characteristically clean and distinctly Whileaways lines around what can at times be workmanlike guitar lines.

Noelie McDonnell’s songs add further depth to the mix, with Swallows Returning marking the passage of time with a wistful sweep. Words is a meditation on what was not to be, subtle and resonant, from Nicola Joyce. The pastoral tone of this collection amplifies the trio’s innate compatibility, though the consistency of the sound palette whispers of the potential benefit of introducing an edgier sound to some tracks. In particular, Still I’m on the Road would be richer were it more roughly shod.

In all Honesty is nonetheless a finely honed and cohesive collection, produced by Seán Óg Graham and Alex Borwick, and does what an album should: lure the listener to seek out these musicians in a live setting.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts