"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.