Brendan Nolan | Familiar Brew

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World: Celtic Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Solo Male Artist
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Familiar Brew

by Brendan Nolan

Nolan lends his rich voice to a variety of material, from the weird and wooly verses of 'The Reel in the Flickering Light' and 'St. Brendan's Fair Isle', to love songs like 'The Cavan Girl' and 'Broom O'Cowdenknowes.'
Genre: World: Celtic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Rattle For The Gypsy/The Bird in the Tree
3:54 album only
2. The Broom O' Cowdenknowes
4:17 album only
3. St. Brendan's Fair Isle
5:12 album only
4. The Finding of Moses
3:55 album only
5. The Reel in the Flickering Light
4:16 album only
6. John O'Dreams
4:15 album only
7. Donegal Danny
6:44 album only
8. Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Instrumental)
2:25 album only
9. Tandragee
3:36 album only
10. The Cavan Girl
3:40 album only
11. Coleraine Regatta/ The Musical Priest
5:38 album only
12. Green Grow The Rashes O'
3:49 album only


Album Notes
"This album has Nolan doing what he does best: singing sweet, dramatic and humorous songs in a rich baritone, as well as playing guitar and banjo. The arrangements are pretty and unobtrusive, letting the singer communicate the song. And that is the point, isn't it." - Steve Winick, Dirty Linen Magazine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Familiar Brew is Brendan's fourth album. 'The album was an opportunity to again interpret some of the songs he has added to his extensive repertoire over the years. Although he is also known as a song-writer he has sung a lot of traditional and contemporary material by other writers. This album contains both.
The opening track 'Rattle For The Gypsy' is a song he has sung since the late 70's and always wanted to record . He is joined by multi-instrumentalist Bobby O'Donovan who tacks on an Irish traditional tune 'The Bird in the Tree,' at the end of the song. Bobby plays throughout the album and shines particularly on 'The Rollicking Boys of Tandragee' where he plays all the instruments except Udu. "I was thinking of adding a guitar or bodhran part to the song but Bobby had done such a great job I felt it was perfect as it was."
Steve Winick noted in Dirty Linen Magazine that some of the songs were just a little unsettling, in a good way we expect. A couple of the tracks he was referring to were 'The Reel in the Flickering Light' and 'St. Brendan's Fair Isle'. The first song written by Colm Gallahger features that mischievous spider-like creature the Daddy Long Legs. He is front and center in this romp and a very comical character throughout. 'St.Brendan's Fair Isle' was written by the late Jimmy Driftwood who also wrote 'The Battle of New Orleans' and 'The Tennessee Stud'. Who knows where Jimmy, who hailed from Arkansas, found out about St. Brendan and his possible voyage to the New World long before Columbus. He must have read passages from the Navagatio which chronicles the voyage of St. Brendan. There are some wild stories in there and one tells of St. Brendan celebrating mass on the back of a whale. Jimmy picks up on this in the final verse of the song. It is said that Columbus himself consulted the writings in the Navagatio before setting sail on his voyage.
The album features a great rendition of the tragic sea-song 'Donegal Danny', the story of a tramp who wanders into a bar and ends up telling his story to one of the patrons. His sad tale tells of how the sea took his friends near St. John's Point off the southern coast of Donegal and how he can never set sail again. It is one of the great ballads of the sea.
There are a couple of lovely Scottish songs on the album; 'The Broom O'Cowdenknowes' is a song of longing for a love that cannot be mainly because of the class distinctions that existed at the time. There is a Robert Burns song 'Green Grow The Rashes', that Burns wrote in praise of women.

"This is the Bard at one with his music, far removed from the din of determined drinkers." - Mo Elnuaimy, Hour Magazine, Montreal, Canada

For more bio information on Brendan Nolan you can check the notes for his album "Tempus Fugitive" or go to his we-site at



to write a review

Bernie Houlahan

Just about the perfect collection of Irish folk and traditional songs
These are all great songs;a few familiar and some not so well known,perhaps...perfectly sung,with just the right amount of tasteful and varied accompaniment...right up there with the best of them.

Siobhan Diamond

Fantastic and charming
love this recording. not your usual manky old butchers job on some well loved songs. there are some fantastic gems here and some surprises. not one bad track. I highly recommend this recording.

Peg Dolan

Great, Irish music at its' best.
I bought this CD because I was looking for the song "Donegal Danny" and I found it on this CD. I ordered it for that song and what a pleasant surprise to find that this CD not only had that song, but all the rest of the songs are really great too! The arrangements are simple and clear and done with great taste and interesting chords and guitar work. I am a musician myself, specializing in Irish music and the CD is one of the best I've heard from a solo artist.

Irish Ways Radio Programme WFCF St Augustine Florida

Why isn't this Man hugely famous?
His voice would make the hairs on a gooseberry stand to attention! From Finglas in Dublin and truly an Artist you won't forget. His skill on guitar, bodhrán and banjo are second to none and the voice..... oh my God, the voice... Visions of Ireland are conjured up in the superb choice of of old trad tunes like The Finding of Moses written by the Dublin Streetsinger of old,Zozimus. A comic song that has all the inferences and biting satire that has not lost it's ferocious humour in Brendan's superb version. With tunes by new contemporary writers, Thom Moore wrote Cavan Girl not long after he arrived in the "Green Isle", Brendan makes it sound, like it was written for him.
A couple of old Scottish tunes too, given the "Nolan" treatment. In my book , he is as good as any Irish Singer and Performer I have ever seen or heard. Give your ears a treat.
"Green Erin, me Country, the gem of the sea", is not "Tandragee" it's Brendan Nolan!

Alan Schneider

Brendan Nolan has a great voice. Good selection of songs.
I bought this CD for the track "St. Brendan's Fair Isle," but was very pleasantly suprised to discover a wonderful and varied selection of songs. And when Brendan Nolan sings a soft Irish ballad, there's no sweeter sound.

Raymond Millar

Just received my copy of Familiar Brew (delivered to N.Ireland) I had previewed
I really enjoyed listening to this CD. It is the first CD from this artist that I have received and all the tracks are enjoyable. Being a native of Coleraine I was attracted to the track entitled Coleraine Regatta, as I had never heard it before and it makes a welcome addition to my collection.