Way Out Yonder presents Andy Irvine at his best, applying his voice, mandolin, bouzouki, hurdygurdy and harmonica to a mixture of mostly original and traditional material backed by some of Ireland's finest instrumentalists. While the musical settings are strongly Irish, Andy's interest in Balkan music peeks through occasionally -- particularly on the instrumental title track. Lyrically, Andy continues to write or adapt songs of political and social awareness such as "Gladiators" (about the industrial Workers of the World "the Wobblies") and their fight against conscription in Australia during World War I, "Born in Carrickfergus" (about Ireland's religious troubles), and "Moreton Bay" ( a convict ballad from the early 19th century).
The lighter, more traditional side of Andy's music is heard on "The Girl I Left Behind", his whimsical medley of "They'll Never Believe It's True", "Froggy's Jig", and a gorgeously stirring performance of the classic poem "The Highway man" (which sports an arrangement recently created by Loreena McKennitt, the Canadian singer and harpist). Way Out Yonder's other instrumental track is the delicate and evocative original, "On a Distant Shore," written on a deserted New Zealand beach (and including the sounds of those faraway waves).
Irvine has long followed his own precarious but rewarding mission -- to preserve Irish traditional music without embalming it; to expand that tradition without distorting it; to use songs old and new to celebrate life's good times and remind us of the world's dangers, past and ever-present. Way Out Yonder fulfills those goals in a most satisfying fashion.
Reviews"A bloody masterpiece." - Irish Times