A Wealth of Spirit

Of Labour and Love (Independent)
Four Shillings Short

By David Lilly

Ponder these queries, if ye shall: What does the average mid-teen-age female do after school? Likewise, how many guys attend college to study Medieval and Renaissance (not Annie Haslam, et al) music? Starting at age 16, the lovely and talented Christy Martin studied sitar for 10 years. However, she got involved in folk music and took up hammered dulcimer in 1993 (and numerous other musical instruments along the way).

Aodh Óg, hailing from Cork, Ireland, is the male of this talented, enchanting and yes, sometimes cynical duo. He also plays a variety of instruments; so many between he and she that naming them all might go beyond my allotted word limit. The key words here are the aforementioned "talented," "enchanting" and the newly mentioned "goofy." May St. Patrick bless the "special guests" who help out by playing ordinary instruments like guitar, keyboard, bass, drums and, as if we don't get enough of this on the pop charts, the concertina.

The sunrise of this CD, "Calliope House/Jig of Slurs," greets the listener like a conversation among morning birds. If you would like to ponder what instruments are interacting here, please do and let me know if you figure it out. On the heels of that, "Both Sides the Tweed" has historical significance, which you'll have to get the CD to learn about. It's a well-done and entertaining song, too.

As late morning is hinting at lunchtime we're treated to, "Have a Nice Day," a taste of Four Shillings Short's cynical side. "Heavens Gate" is a good midday tour de force consisting of several tunes quilted together as one, including a 13th century Spanish melody. "Gone Gonna Rise Again" has personal historical significance for our lady hero, Christy. Read the liner notes and you might find you relate to her. "Foxhunters Jig" is a knee-bouncer for shy folks and a dancer for the extroverts. Night falls on this disc with an anthem called "Common Ground" that this duo learned at a peace gathering.

Understand that Christy, Aodh Og and their hired help are consummate musicians playing some new and some really old songs, with an Irish denominator. That said, if you're of Celtic heritage or are just interested in something off the beaten path, this is an excellent CD to add to your collection. The website address is

www.art.net/4ss

; Christy and Aodh Og would enjoy your feedback via

foursshort@cs.com