'Arise and Go' is a powerful collaboration of music and poetry from poet Stephen James Smith accompanied by the vocals and instrumentation from Enda Reilly.
The majority of the eight tracks on 'Arise and Go' celebrates the poetry of Yeats, Kavanagh and Luke Kelly along with two original works. Smith & Reilly describe this collaboration of poetry and music as 'Spoken Word Sung Verse' and their objective is to give new life to old poems. It's a bold move by the artists to merge these two aspects of the arts and to release it in CD format.
In general the album works for me. The key powerful stand-out track is the original poem from Stephen James Smith called 'The Gardener' with guest musician Elder Roche providing a beautiful background piano soundtrack. 'The Gardener' is a powerful poem about the poet's mother and they get the tone and atmosphere right in this track. The other highlight is the original track sung and composed by Enda Reilly called 'Donal Ná Fág'.
The fact that I enjoyed the two original tracks most in the album means that as a concept album it doesn't really fulfill the objective mentioned above. They do a great version of 'Amhrán Na bhFiann' to close the album. I love Stephen's recital of Yeats' 'September 1913' and the album opener 'Mise Éire/I Am Ireland' sets the tone of the album nicely. The one major negative is the version of 'Raglan Road'. The vocals and the spoken word compete for attention and causes unease and confusion. It's the one track which I wish they did two versions of it, a spoken word and a version with Enda's great vocals at the fore.
'Arise and Go' is a very good concept album which brings new life to previously loved poems and ballads. It's a powerful album which makes you think about Ireland in the past and present and for me breaths new life to poetry.
Smith & Reilly - Arise and Go [10 out of 12]