With a song title like “Blue-Eyed Girl from Kilkenny,” you might expect a full on Scottish or Irish jig or reel, complete with fiddles and bagpipes. Although Jude Gwynaire’s single does have a Celtic feel running through it, it is not strictly a traditional piece of Highland music.
In fact, the track’s opening riff sounds surprisingly close to a rock & roll guitar riff. Granted, it’s not exactly AC/DC, but it could – if instrumented differently – have turned into a pretty rockin’ affair. However, over this riffage is placed a melodic, Celtic-associated melody. About one third of the way through, Flute-ish playing can also be heard.
This unusual combination makes for an instrumental that’s difficult to describe. It makes us wonder just what this blue-eyed girl from Kilkenny is actually like. Is she an old-fashioned, traditional Irish girl, a Celtic girl that wants to break out of the expected role at home, or something in between? This music doesn’t really tell us too much. It creates a mood, and then suggests the listener fill in all the blanks.
The music is best described as (slightly) Celtic influenced. It’s more mystically Irish, than it is, say, traditional Irish drinking music. Sadly, some people only associate drinking music with Irish music, just as they associate heavy drinking with Irish people. We should know better by now, especially with the punk, new wave music of U2 and the Sinead O’Connor’s indescribable mixture of various stylistic forms.
As a melody, this one is relatively limited. Whereas instrumental pieces can grow and evolve as they play out, this one doesn’t change all that much. Once you’ve heard the first few bars of it, you’ve pretty much heard it all. In other words, Gwynaire, could have done more to make this track memorable. Perhaps he could have repeated its melody using differing instrumentation. Or, he could have added a bridge that took the song to a different place, before returning it safely to its original theme.
There are plenty of good ideas contained in this piece, but it just sounds a little unfinished, as though it’s missing something that pushes it victoriously across the finish line. Gwynaire is such an inventive composer, with every succeeding release so much different than the ones that came before it. Maybe we’ve just raised our expectations a little too high.
Although “Blue-Eyed Girl from Kilkenny” may not be Gwynaire’s finest moment, it’s still an unexpected artistic turn. With Gwynaire, we’ve come to always expect the unexpected. Unlike, say, the Ramones or AC/DC, groups that transformed the predictably expected into something truly special, Gwynaire – in quite Neil Young-ish fashion – is constantly changing his output styles in a Zelig-like fashion.
This is a track that will appeal to those that want (need) a little gentler music, but are not even close to surrendering their rock & roll hearts. It’s a midpoint someplace between here and there. It’s Irish music after, perhaps, Thin Lizzy got ahold of it. Thus, it’s unusual and darn near impossible to accurately describe. And that’s about as high of a recommendation you can give any new piece of music.