"On The Upbeat" Review October 2020
It has been a concept a long time in coming, to the point where many of us who have so longed for a solo album had pretty much figured it would never happen, and then as quiet and stealthy as his wit, he has lightened our pandemic burdened hearts with his new album simply titled Pat Broaders. Although he was very unobtrusive in putting it out that he had finished the album, it created a tsunami of interest from his many fellow musicians and fans. I have been inundated with requests for play on my show, and several listeners who downloaded it as soon as they were able are singing its praises, and very rightfully so.
Pat grew up in Dublin, a son of Wexford parents who nurtured his interest in music from the time he was quite young. At the age of eight, he was playing tin whistle and soon advanced to the uilleann pipes. His father was a well-respected singer and gave the desire to sing to his son. Pat followed his love, Sara, here to Chicago in the early 1990s, and we have been fortunate to have him in our midst ever since. A member of Bohola with Jimmy Keane, Open the Door for Three with Liz Knowles and Kieran O’Hare, as well as being half of a long time session partnership with Jimmy Moore, Pat has gifted us with quality Irish music for going on thirty years.
A devoted father, he has passed his love of music onto his children.
In addition to performing, Pat teaches and also owns Pipe Dream Studios where he works to bring other musicians’ aspirations to fruition. He has a wonderful way with young bands, and they look to him for approval and inspiration. Whether he is helping them record or just putting them up with a bed and meal as they travel these United States, from the time he opens the door with a “Hey, what’s the craic?” they have a high respect for and lifelong desire for friendship with him.
Pat’s rich and clear baritone has told many a musical story over the years and this is one of his greatest
talents-being able to sing the story so that it is understandable and potent with meaning and feeling. The songs on this album were specially chosen and have powerfully evocative lyrics that take the listener on a musical adventure through the tales he sings.
He opens with two Wexford rebellion songs, “Kelly, The Boy From Killane” and “The Croppy Boy,” both well known and oft sung by notable musicians. Pat brings a quiet punch of meaning to both with his slower paced delivery giving us time to really hear the words and understand the meaning. After two heavily themed songs, he lightens the mood with a gorgeous tune written for his wife Sara who loves the Wisconsin “Merrimac Ferry.” You can close your eyes and feel the relaxing ripples of the water as he plays.
His version of “Van Dieman’s Land” telling of the emotions of being sent to the Australian penal colony, and the brutally sad story of “Rosemary’s Sister,” a tale of a young 5 year old girl’s death during a wartime bombing blitz and its lifelong effect on her sister, allow us to feel the passion he brings to his songs. Again, after taking us on a moving journey, he bounces you back up with “The Liz Effect,” a tune written for two of his favorite musicians to play with, the inimitable fiddlers Liz Knowles and Liz Carroll. When onstage with these ladies, you may not be able to hear what he is saying, but you know he has his teasing wit going as his mischievous smile gets their eyes twinkling and head shaking laughs going.
Pat does a beautiful rendition of English folk singer June Tabor’s “Reynadine,” and follows it up with his version of “Farewell Lovely Nancy” with an intro you’ll be playing over and over. It is magnifiscent!
His delivery of the David Francey song, “Where Harry Sat” describes the loss of a brother who will never be forgotten. My favorite, at this time, is his interpretation of “School Day’s Over,” an Ewan McCall song, well known for most of us by Luke Kelly. He slows it down and makes you hear the story of the young children being robbed of their childhood by being forced down into the holes to work. You won’t forget it.
Pat pays a heartfelt and special tribute to his father by finishing the album sharing a reel to reel soundtrack of his Dad singing “My Irish Jaunting Car,” the Wexford accent strong in his voice. It is such a treat to hear and lightens the soul.
I am loving the cover of the album, a picture from the back showing the well worn neck of Pat’s “bouzar,” a hybrid bass bouzouki/guitar- simple and meaningful. You could probably say that about the entire album. It, like Pat, who is one of the most talented, fun and caring people to ever be poured into shoes, will stay with you, not because it is flashy, but because of its heart and soul.
It has been downloadable on his media pages, and by the time you read this, hard copies will be available.
It is a definite must have for your music library. The wait is over and it has been well worth our patience!
Maryann McTeague Keifer
Solo Debut is a joy to listen to
By Dan Neely
September 8, 2020
Speaking of Dublin singers, I’ve had Pat Broaders’s brand new self-titled album in the media player this week and it’s truly a joy to listen to. Broaders, who is now based in Chicago, is one of the finest singers (and bouzouki players) in Irish music today, and in addition to all sorts of smaller project over the years has been a member of incredible bands like bohola and Open the Door for Three (OTD43). This solo debut shows a different side of the artist’s music, one that’s a bit intimate, a bit raw, but the end is a stunning and satisfying album that needs to be in your collection, especially if you love songs.
Broaders announced the album through his Facebook page on September 1. “This is my first solo flight,” he wrote, “and I hope it brings a smile or tear to those of you who listen. […] There are songs that I have know for a long time and some not so much. They all tell a story and they all speak to me of friends, family, love and loss.
This is precisely what Broaders has delivered. The album starts strong with “Kelly The Boy From Killane” and “The Croppy Boy.” Both songs come from the 1798 rebellion in Wexford, his parents’ home, and both he learned as a child from his father. Broaders’s strong, penetrating voice communicates the songs’ meanings well, but in doing so he reveals facets of his own musical journey that give the songs individual life.
Other lovely tracks are “Van Dieman’s Land” (his setting combines Christy Moore and Mike Waterson’s versions) and “Reynardine” (his version being that of June Tabor’s). Another one I find most compelling is “The Holland Handkerchief,” a song Broaders got from the great singer and collector Frank Harte and has been singing for quite a while. Here, whistle, uilleann pipes, and what sounds like a synthesized drone – all played by Broaders, who started out playing whistle as a child and was a piping student of Leon Rowsome’s – are added to the arrangement and given great use.
Finally, there’s “Irish Jaunting Car,” a track that features Broaders backing a recording from 1962 of his father singing. It’s a touching and a suitable way to end a thoroughly enjoyable album.
I’ve enjoyed Broaders’s singing very much over the years, and I was curious what set these songs apart from ones he might have done with bohola or OTD43. His answer was detailed: “I am always working on some song or other and eventually you have a bunch of songs to pull from and try out and the ones that OTD43 did were a group choice. I would introduced maybe 5,6,7 or so songs and we would play and listen to them and make a group decision.
“Some of the songs on my cd, like ‘Rosemarys Sister’ or ‘The Holland Hankerchief’ I have been singing for a while, but they didn’t suit the trio so I [thought to] maybe use them in a solo project, which is what I did. And then there were songs like ‘Van Diemans Land’ which I hadn’t looked at in years but when I was putting all this together it came to mind.”
Pat Broaders eponymous solo debut comes recommended without hesitation. His vocal performances are excellent, but moreover, his less-is-more approach to arranging and the strong song choices he’s made highlight the material as well as his own talent, which is superlative. If you love Irish singing, this album is a real treat – check it out. Broaders’s album is available for download directly from his website, patbroaders.com.
Irish Music Magazine Review
By Sean Smith, BostonIrish Contributor
November 4, 2020
Pat Broaders, “Pat Broaders” • Until this year, Broaders would surely have been at or near the top of any “It’s Really Time He/She Made a Solo Album” list. The Dublin native and now ensconced Chicagoan has long been acclaimed as a first-rate singer of traditional and modern material who doesn’t push or dramatize a song more than is necessary and relies on a clear, steady delivery that can convey drama, humor, tension, sadness, and other salient emotions without excess. He’s also one of the finer bouzouki players around, whether accompanying himself or others – something he’s done in great measure, especially as a member of two trios, bohola and, more recently, Open the Door for Three (with Maine-based spouses Liz Knowles and Kieran O’Hare).
In this case, result easily meets, even exceeds, expectation: The album captures all of Broaders’s talents, including some that have been heretofore overlooked or less in evidence. Its overall feel is quiet, even understated, yet with a strength and purposefulness that takes hold of you. Broaders demonstrates respect and gratitude to singers and musicians who have influenced him over the years – most of all his father, who, like his mother, was from Wexford.
In fact, the first two songs – both learned from his father – put his familial heritage front and center: Patrick Joseph McCall’s “Kelly, the Boy From Killane” and the broadside ballad “The Croppy Boy,” both of which recall the 1798 uprising, one of the seminal events in Wexford history. Broaders is able to unpack the forcefulness of pride, resolve, tragedy, and sorrow in the narrative of both songs without histrionics. In doing so, he points the way to a 21st-century, post-Troubles setting for the Irish rebel song tradition – affirming the historical and cultural importance while de-emphasizing the martial aspect.
A trio of venerable “classic” ballads show Broaders’ appreciation for major figures in the Irish/UK folk revival circa 1970 onwards. “Farewell, Lovely Nancy” – a dialogue between a departing sailor and his lover – is taken from a version recorded by Mick Hanly, marked by its soaring, heart-wrenching melody; Broaders’s bouzouki is in particularly fine form here, almost harpsichord-like in tone. “Reynardine” has a supernatural tint to it – the titular character is a werefox who entices women to his castle – that some variants (such as Fairport Convention’s) accentuate with a slow, minor-key atmosphere of menace; Broaders opts for a version taken from June Tabor that is more playful, emphasizing the romance and mystery in the story (maybe Reynardine’s really a nice guy under all that fur and attitude). “Van Diemen’s Land” is a cautionary tale of poachers deported to the other side of the world – what today is Tasmania – and Broaders’s blending of versions by Christy Moore and Mike Waterson chronicles the painful transition, topped with an anthemic chorus (“Young men all, beware/Lest you be drawn into a snare”).
Broaders is equally adept with contemporary songs, as evidenced by his soulful take on Ewan MacColl’s bittersweet “Schooldays Over.” The other two on this album share a theme: the personalization of war (in this case World War II) through the loss of a sibling, and the imprint this leaves. In Huw Williams’ “Rosemary’s Sister,” the death (during the Blitz) is up close and immediate, and the trauma never really goes away – a helpful reminder that, for all the heroism and mythologizing that accompanied it, the Blitz cost more than 40,000 civilian lives. In some contrast, David Francey’s “Where Harry Sat” depicts a simple but heart-felt closure, for a death long ago and far away. Broaders invests both songs with dignified sympathy and sensitivity, and the lovely recurring riff he employs in “Harry” is a master stroke.
If all this wasn’t enough, Broaders displays quite the flair for tune-writing: “The Merrimac Ferry” has a tranquil, almost Turlough O’Carolan-like character, while “The Liz Effect” – written for two fiddle-playing friends, Liz Carroll and his aforementioned bandmate Liz Knowles – is a mighty Balkanesque tour-de-force with multi-tracked bouzouki. Moreover, “Merrimac” is among the tracks on which Broaders plays whistle; he also adds keyboards and uilleann pipes to his luggage, the latter most strikingly on “The Holland Handkerchief,” which Broaders learned from the singing of Frank Harte, an influential figure for many in the Irish folk revival.
Broaders comes up with a perfect ending track for the album, adding his bouzouki to a 1962 recording made of his father singing Wilson Crean’s “My Irish Jaunting Car” in a Co. Wexford pub. “There’s been many voices that have influenced me along the way,” Broaders explains in the intro, “but the first one was my father.” A very touching, personal way to say “Thanks.” [patbroaders.com]