[Our friends Martin and Brian have asked me to drop the old phonograph needle on some of their tunes, perhaps some lesser known, and report back to everyone.]
“Let me take you down . . ‘Cause I’m going to . .” begins the Beatles’ famous “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It’s an opening that seduces you into the song. Switchback does that without even uttering a word in “Love Won’t Run Away” on their Bolinree album.
Brian FitzGerald’s careful guitar notes walk beside you while a slow, gentle wave of instruments ushers you to the song’s center. Once you are there, warmed and welcomed, Martin McCormack begins to offer what partner Brian has composed. He draws out words in high clear tenor: “Since I called your name, You came, Never to leave me . .”
This is the fourth cut on 2005’s Bolinree, right in the middle of a banquet of traditional Irish tunes along with the title-track’s bittersweet homage to Marty’s ancestral home in County Mayo. “Love Won’t Run Away” is a little too easy to overlook amongst the high-energy jigs and Brian’s Gatling-gun mandolin on “Drunken Sailor.” But there it is, calling out its sweet promise.
Mid-song a bevy of Middle-Eastern drums and an Irish flute come forward, flashing mystique and carrying us over time. The instruments are double-tracked as both are played by Chicago squeezebox legend John Williams. Then Marty is back, taffy-pulling syllables. (I just imagine all those stretched vowels hanging out backstage after “Love Won’t Run Away,” happily exhausted and grinning from “i” to “i.”)
“Love Won’t Leave” is just the sort of song that begs Carly Simon’s most famous line with a joyful variation, as in I’ll bet you wish this song was about you, don’t you?. Well, yes, I confess. Who wouldn’t want the love and devotion that powers Brian’s closing lyric?
“When I say I do, I do forever”
Doug Kamholz is an itinerant washboard player who has freelanced for the New York Times, Washington Post and many lesser media. His most honest work was as a pig farmer in central Illinois, where he now lives and occasionally makes dinner for Switchback.
American Roots & Celtic Soul