Cillian Vallely and David Doocey: The Yew & the Orchard – Fiddle and pipes in a dance that never lets up

Drawing deeply from the well in this new collection, the duo make some stellar tune choices, and contribute no fewer than six of their own compositions

The Yew & the Orchard
    
Artist: Cillian Vallely and David Doocey
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent Release

Taking their title from their respective home places – Armagh’s Orchard and Mayo’s Yew – Cillian Vallely and David Doocey have created a fresh-faced sound from their pipes and fiddle, a long-standing favoured duo of instruments in the tradition.

This is a collection that has much to mine. Drawing deeply from the well, the duo have made some stellar tune choices, and contributed no fewer than six newly composed tunes themselves. Geography presents no barriers, and in fact it’s their lively and imaginative tune pairings that elevate their sets from the get-go.

The reel set tail-ended by O’Reilly’s Greyhound emerges from the traps striking a subtle note with fiddle and guitar (courtesy of Patrick Doocey, David’s brother), but once Vallely’s pipes join the fray they weave a gorgeously languid pattern across a set bequeathed from the playing of Denis Murphy and O’Neill’s Music of Ireland collection from the 1930s.

Both musicians’ own compositions are stellar – sharp in definition and playing to the harmonic strengths of their instruments. Vallely’s utter possession of the pipes is evident throughout, while Doocey’s fiddle has an innate swing that charms the pants off his tune choices. Guitar accompaniment is also provided by Seán Óg Graham, with some very tasty piano from Caoimhín Vallely.


This album is at its best when at its most spare, with fiddle and pipes almost wooing one another in a dance that never lets up, luring the listener ever closer, all the more to relish the filigree ornamentation of it all.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

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