Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly have been firmly established on the Irish music scene since the late 1980s, when both were members of the now legendary Fleadh Cowboys, a country rock band whose regular weekend concerts at The Olympia Theatre in Dublin were the talk of the city. Regular guests of the band back then included The Hothouse Flowers, John Prine, Nancy Griffith and members of The Waterboys.
After The Fleadhs stopped gigging, Paul returned to his traditional roots by joining The Sharon Shannon Band in 1992, while Frankie concentrated on studio work and performing with different bands around the country.
The mid-nineties saw Frankie and Paul team up as a duo for the first time, producing their highly acclaimed live CD: Wahoo! Tours of Germany and Austria quickly followed, as the two lads honed their eclectic mix of Country/Roots/Traditional music to an intuitive level of performance.
Guest appearances followed, with Frankie invited to perform with The Chieftains, and both he and Paul recording with The Dubliners on their1997 release, Further Along.
Frankie and Paul then joined forces in 2002 with one of Ireland’s finest folk singers, Eleanor Shanley, for an Irish Tour. This partnership worked so well that Eleanor and the two lads continued to perform together, and indeed have celebrated 13 years on the road this year. Festival performances have included Tonder and Skagen in Denmark, as well as tours of Austria and Italy.
Frankie and Paul’s live performances are frequently sublime, sometimes bizarre, but always totally entertaining. What sets them apart from other duos is the sheer scope of their material. Paul, while primarily a traditional musician, has developed a broad eclectic palette of styles, which compliments Frankie’s extensive range of songs perfectly. In a typical concert, (if there is such a thing with this pair!) one may hear Irish Traditional tunes and songs, American Folk, Western Swing, Jazz, Classical, Bluegrass, and even a Gypsy number or two!
Last time around, Irish roots veteran Frankie Lane took it upon himself to breath life into the fast-fading genre of cowboy music. He may not have resurrected it, but the album was a great pleasure nonetheless. The same is true of this more eclectic collection of ballads, bluegrass, waltzes and jigs. The common theme this time seems to be that these simply are songs that Lane loves. It comes across. And his affection obviously was contagious because the playing, particularly that of key collaborator, Paul Kelly, is full of soft brilliance. Many of the songs are traditional, mostly American, but the segueing of Wedding Dress into the hackneyed Scottish ballad Marie’s Wedding shows what can be achieved with talent and an open mind. And Lane has both in abundance.
JOE BREEN The Ticket – The Irish Times 18th April 2008