CD Reviews

4. THE LONG HARD ROAD by Tom McElvogue (self-issued)

Born and bred in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, Tom McElvogue has distant Irish lineage on his mother’s (Connemara) and father’s (Tyrone) sides of the family. Highly respected as a flutist and composer in England, where his admirers included fellow flutists Kevin Crawford and Michael McGoldrick, McElvogue deserves far wider acclaim, especially with the release of this long-awaited solo CD. Playing B-flat, D, E-flat, and F wooden flutes, this All-Ireland senior champion from 1990 delivers “pure drop” music of the finest nectar. His playing is technically flawless and articulate but avoids flash, even though he could readily dazzle if he wanted. The emotion in his playing is honestly won; he conveys passion without any overheated effects. Backed unobtrusively by Sligo native Paddy Kerr on bouzouki, guitar, and bodhran, McElvogue, now a resident of Dublin, renders five of his own compositions with uncommon skill. No matter how long and hard the road was to get to this point (all 14 tracks were recorded in 2003-2004), this is the best solo flute album I heard in 2010.
Earle Hitchner Ceol Columnist, Irish Echo, New York City

— Earle Hitchner, “Ceol” Columnist, Irish Echo, New York City; column was entitled “Top Ten Traditional Albums of 2010” and published on January 12, 2011; Tom McElvogue’s “The Long Hard Road” finished #4 in Earle Hitchner’s top ten list.

For full review of the top ten of 2010 visit Irish Echo

A LONG time a-coming this album, originally recorded in 2003/4 and only just released by the Newcastle-born, now Dublin-based, Irish flautist Tom McElvogue. It proves worth the wait, however. A musician’s musician, McElvogue combines lyricism and meticulous technique with a zest that doesn’t need to break sound barriers to make a point, although he can certainly fly with style and elegance. He’s accompanied peerlessly by Paddy Kerr on bouzouki, guitar and bodhran – listen, for example, to the bouzouki skittering neatly along under the flute in Jackie Daly’s Reel, or the drumming damped strings carrying along a fluid version of Colonel Fraser.

McElvogue has a considerable repertoire of jigs, both his own compositions as well as some old chestnuts like Gan Ainm, but for an unadorned showpiece, listen to the unaccompanied Old Walls of Liscaroll, velvet-toned flute rolling it out unhurriedly but with perfect poise and intonation.

Jim Gilchrist The Scotsman. Published February 2nd 2011.

For full review visit The Scotsman

….Essential listening for anyone with an ear cocked for finesse….
Siobhán Long The Irish Times, February 11th, 2011

For full review visit The Irish Times

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Coming in a close second is flute player, Tom McElvogue’s and guitarist, Paddy Kerr’s superb The Long Hard Road.

Both albums are a refreshing reminder that trad fans seem to favour subtlety over sledgehammer production values.

A timely cue to nascent musicians too: small scale productions can ably match bigger budget releases.

Siobhán Long The Irish Times, The Ticket Awards, January 27th, 2012

For full article see The Irish Times.

February’s CD is The Long Hard Road, by Tom McElvogue and Paddy Kerr. It’s the long awaited debut CD from a master flute player and composer, featuring old favourites alongside new gems.

Ellen Cranitch, Grace Notes, Lyric FM CD of the Month, February 2011

For details see Grace Notes, Lyric FM

What I love about this album is that there is nothing fancy about it, no special effects, no egos, but there is masterful playing from both Tom and Paddy. Anyone who listens will come away with a new found respect for the Irish tradition, Tom McElvogue and Paddy Kerr.
Alex Gallacher Folkradio.co.uk, Album of the week, January 2011

For full review visit Folk Radio UK

TOM MCELVOGUE & PADDY KERR – The Long Hard Road (TMc Productions) Flautist Tom McElvogue is a name highly regarded by many musicians on the Celtic ‘session’ circuit. His tunes are often credited by those that should know better as traditional but in a back-handed sort of way what finer compliment can a musician have than for your own melodies to be soaked up sponge-like into the tradition. Come to think of it the same thing happened to Hughie Jones “Ellen Vannin Tragedy” many years before.

On this CD, Tom is accompanied by Paddy Kerr’s precise, but never boring bouzouki, guitar and bodhran where required and it’s really refreshing to hear the full beauty of the melody unadorned by flashy displays of decoration. This recording proves to be a real joy as the emphasis is placed on sets of tunes which wouldn’t be out of place performed at an Irish Step Dance class bringing back many fond memories of my own experiences working with accordionist James Montgomery and ‘Doctor’ Michael Moriarty who often used Tom’s tunes in their sets as well. This is an album that perhaps non-musicians might judge too quickly as stark but personally speaking if you are looking for an articulate and artistic approach without all the bells and whistles I’d say you’ve come to the right place.

Pete Fyfe Pete Fyfe, February 2011

For full review visit Fatea magazine

…It is pure stuff with original compositions from both Tom and one by Paddy as well as traditional tunes….Paddy is a brilliant support for Tom’s selections, and Tom a masterful flutist as well as imaginative composer….

Tom Keller Folkworld, March 2012

For full review visit Folkworld.eu

Recorded back in 2003-04, the title hints at the difficulties encountered in getting the recordings through the editing, production and release processes. The wait is worth it however, as this recording is shot through with warmth and colour, the result of a rich tone combined with great technique, timing and judgement.
Gordon Turnbull The Flow, December 2010

For full review visit The Flow

Great playing and lovely tunes…this is the real thing. I’ve always been a fan of Thomas McElvogue’s flute playing…I’ve been waiting for this album for 30 years!

Kathryn Tickell Kathryn Tickell, February 2011

Growing up and playing Irish music in England during the 1980’s I always thought that Tom McElvogue was the “cream of the crop” among the flute players of our generation.

Twenty years on and Tom’s long awaited solo album has confirmed my theory and proven that he has something ‘extra special’ when it comes to flute playing.

The Long Hard Road is a remarkable display of true musicianship and I really hope we don’t have to wait another twenty years for it’s follow up.

Kevin Crawford Kevin Crawford, December 2010

Tom is one of the greatest technicians of the Irish wooden flute and he employs his exceptional ability for the expression of an intense musicality. To add to this he is an outstanding and individual composer, showing us new possibilities and compositional artistry in the traditional form.

Evidence for all this can be heard on every corner of this beautiful CD which is an accurate testament of Thomas’ flute playing and to the communities that have nourished and supported his genius. Basically Tom McElvogue is the best flute player and composer of our generation by a very, very long shot.

Niall Keegan Course Director, MA Irish Traditional Music Performance, University of Limerick December 2010