Another Son:
Record Release Party Program
June 23, 1995

Another Son, Four to the Bar's third release in as many years, is a record which takes the industry term independent release at its most literal. Forsaking virtually all of the conventional procedures involved in recording an album, the band financed the guts of a digital recording studio this past spring and set up camp in the ballroom of O'Neill's Irish Castle in Poughkeepsie, NY.

They called up an old friend, Tim Hatfield, not coincidentally one of New York's hottest up- and-coming engineers, known for his work with such artists as Tom Waits and zydeco/pop mainstays Loup Garou, and for engineering Keith Richards's most recent solo project, Main Offender. They locked the door behind them and got to work.

Just three weeks after the first chord was struck, less time than it would take most bands merely to decide on an album's title, Another Son was completed.

Thematically, Another Son takes a cross- sectional examination of the varying shapes and forms that the father-son relationship assumes as a boy grows into a man, through love and loss, disquiet and acceptance, stumbling and standing up. Complementing this, the immigration experience appears, not only as a motif in and of itself, but also as a metaphor for this spiritual journey of growth.

The album opens with The Newry Highwayman, a song recorded by, among others, Makem and Clancy on their album Two for the Early Dew. Its nonlinear, impressionistic sense of narrative and the use of the birth/life/death cycle sets the dramatic tone for much of the album to follow.

As Cat Stevens sang in Father and Son, It's not easy to be calm when you've found something going on. The title track concerns this something going on, and is, in an ironic way, a treatise on resistance to oppression, whether in Belfast or Sarajevo, or on one's own street. In these new days of hope and peace in Northern Ireland, it stands as a curiously appropriate rebel song, one in which rebellion begins and ends in a nation's recovery of language. The final verse, sung in Irish, translates:

This is the way I see it:
Though we may all speak in English
We think in Irish

The Western Shore, penned by Pat Clifford, is a contemporary song strongly rooted in a time- proven tradition of Celtic folk songwriting, in which a sailor at the end of shore-leave declares his love, both for his new sweetheart and, even more so, for the land he leaves behind him.

Shelli Sullivan's/Passing My Time/Marie Harvey's Delight are three reels, composer/fiddler Keith O'Neill's latest contributions to the Irish-traditional canon, run through the Four to the Bar Cuisinart and served hot with a side of fries. The respective keys are A, G, and D, for those following along.

Singer Dave Yeates' freshman foray into the realm of songwriting, NY's for Paddy captures a young immigrant's wide-eyed-yet-wary experience, disappointed perhaps to discover that the free in The Land of the Free does not apply to the price of goods and services.

Something's Come In is made remarkable by the fact that it is able to hold all the facets of its subject, love, up to the light and consider the tender and terrible force that it can be and always is without ever mentioning it by name.

Leave it to Four to the Bar to resurrect Donovan's Catch the Wind, three decades after its original release in 1965. But can it melt the hearts of Generation X as it did the Flower Children? We shall see.

Dick Gaughan's own liner notes to World Turned Upside-Down, on Handful of Earth (Green Linnet, 1981) remind us that the first victims of British colonialism were the British. Enough said.

The Shores of America, an example of Martin Kelleher's strongest songwriting and a favorite of Four to the Barflies everywhere, speaks directly to the heart of anyone who has ever had a fond thought for one they left behind. Cry, if you must.

A deceptively simple poem from W.B. Yeats's In the Seven Woods, The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water is here set to a music that suggests the rages and still pools along the river of life, and the nobility of enduring its alterations while recognizing the beauty it creates.

One hundred fifty years after the onset of the Irish Potato Famine and the subsequent Evictions which inspired Skibbereen, this story of starvation's ravages, of merciless cruelty and rebellion, of exile, still moves us. By the song's end, however, it is the child's resolve to be the man who leads the van, to become his father's son, that stays with us, and not any bitterness or political vindictiveness.

Getting Medieval is a fresh arrangement of three Irish traditional tunes, on which Keith breaks all known land speed records.

No Matter Where You Go is simultaneously lighthearted and incisive in its observations on modern life. On any life, for that matter. (And a great way to wrap up an album.)

Four to the Bar's musical development has progressed virtually in proportion to the exponential growth of its audience and influence. On any given night, the band is equally as likely to open a set with a piano-inflected love song, an Appalachian-bluegrass banjo rave-up, or an old Irish folk standard.

Another Son reveals Four to the Bar as a musical force of distinction, an airtight alliance of individual musicians, each assisting each in making his creative mark in the areas of performance and songwriting/composition. It is a landmark in the career of a group that is beginning to command some serious attention, and, as the saying goes, if you haven't heard them lately, you haven't heard them at all.
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