NIALL TONER, “Onwards and Upwards,” Pinecastle. 11 tracks.
Niall Toner, an Irish bluegrass musician and songwriter, is still largely unknown in this country, despite one of his compositions — “Nuns Island Reel”– being included on “Grand Theft Auto IV,” one of the all-time best-selling video games.
But his first American album, “Onwards and Upwards,” should change that.
Of course, traditionalists will have to overlook the occasional electric guitar and piano, but those seem to be increasingly common these days.
Toner wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs.
There’s “William Smith Monroe,” an uptempo tribute to “the father of bluegrass music,” that was partly written during a visit to Monroe’s boyhood home outside Rosine, Ky., in 2005.
“The Pride And Joy Of Shelby” is an uptempo song about Earl Scruggs’ banjo-picking style.
“Judge and Jury” is a ballad about a man falsely accused of murder, who can’t tell where he was when the crime was committed because he had been with the judge’s wife.
“Remember Me” is a ballad about a man whose mind and body are both failing as he pleads for people to remember him as he was, not as he is.
“Bling,” a song about a woman who loves jewelry, has a jazz/ragtime feel to it.
“Tomorrow” is a ballad about procrastination.
Good album by a good singer-songwriter.
Can’t find it in stores? Try PinecastleMusic.com.