Aengus Finnan: North Wind
Aengus Finnan North Wind is available through Borealis Records, whose slogan is ‘The Best in Canadian Folk Music’ and Aengus Finnan truly fits that description.
A charming CD, that has all the Celtic criteria in every song; getting the stories across mixed with fabulous ‘kitchen party’ musicians on the well mixed and produced tracks. Born in Dublin, Ireland then raised in Canada, Aengus Finnan has the unique way of drawing you into his songs and making them come alive.
Track # 1 ‘Rollin’ Home’ captures the pictures of backroad trips with the live movie rolling by your window. You can almost smell the Canadian countryside, with wheat and corn and idle cows and horses in the fields. ‘Ruins’ continues along that vein of thought with the comment on the CD liner saying “If You Ate Today….Thank a Farmer.” ‘Swing Boys Swing’ was inspired when Finnan walked along an overgrown railroad track and the ghosts of workers long gone could be heard saying “Swing Boys Swing, God Speed Your Hammers.” Tackling a traditional and adding some lyrics, Finnan has done a great rendition of ‘Lost Jimmy Whelan’, a young shanty boy who drowned in the 1878 log drive at King’s Chute near Pembroke, Ontario.
‘My Heart Has Wings’ is a love song and ‘Apple Blossom Tyme’ is a young lad’s first memories of Canada, chasing after summer workers on trucks, hoping to get a dropped apple or two. ‘Sandy’s Story’ is one that will take you back to a time when tales were told in front of fireplaces and families kept the stories going.
‘Orphan Hand’ touched my heart deeply, as my own grandfather was a Quarrier Child, or what was known as one of the thousands of Home Children sent to work for farmers who had no hearts or feelings for these poor children. The average ages were 5-11 years old and this captures the despair and sadness they must have felt in a strange land, where there accents were not really understood. ‘Worked like a dog, and kept like a pig’ describes in the song what was a very common occurrence, as these children had to live in barns like animals, and were not welcome in the family home.
‘One Hand on the Radio’ is a delightful tribute to the late Peter Gzowski, when radio ruled our homes. Most of over the age of fifty remember when the radio was a constant from breakfast to bedtime, and this captures the feeling of that era.
‘North Wind’, ‘Last Dance’ and ‘Man of Plenty' give the listener an insight into Angus Finnan, and are truly great lyrics to match the music. No Celtic offering would be complete without a lament and ‘O’Shaughnessy’s Lament does not disappoint. Finnan says, “If ever a song was given to me, it was this one. Written on the grave of a silver miner and his family in Cobalt, Ontario.”
‘Moon on the Water’ is a heartfelt song, that can be interpreted many ways, a love that is over, a time to move on, or maybe the singer will be back some day.
‘North Wind’ is a must in any folk lover’s collection – it leaves you wanting more of Aengus Finnan and his offerings.