- Young Man’s Dream (Danny Boy),
- The Song Sings On (Ballad of Tommy Makem)
- The People Have Spoken
- You Will Never Grow Old
- Send for Maguire
- Keep On Singing
- A Stor Mo Chroi
- Rovers of Wonder
- Make Those Dreams Come True
- Ballyvalley Brae
- Time for Asking Why
- Fields of Daisies
- Rambling Wild and Free
- Carlingford Bay
- Let the Circle be Wide
Born in the North of Ireland, an area bitterly divided by opposing religious and political issues, singer-songwriter-activist Tommy Sands has spent his life using music to spread hope, healing and inspiration, as well as entertainment. Since the ’60s with his brothers and sisters in The Sands Family, as a solo performer, and most recently with his daughter and son, Tommy has been bringing traditional Irish songs and original, socially relevant material to audiences all around the world.
On the new Let the Circle be Wide, his seventh solo album, Sands continues to write and perform wise, moving, sometimes rollicking songs infused with his deep but clear-eyed love of his imperfect homeland. The CD reflects some of the changes resulting from the historic 1998 power-sharing Belfast Agreement.
Sands has been described as an “enlightened bard,” who “says and writes words that are more likely to bring people of diverse backgrounds together than to keep them apart.” The 15 songs on Let the Circle be Wide ring with Tommy’s warm brogue, the poignant Irish lilt of uillean pipes, fiddles, and whistles, but also carry the influence of different cultures, such as the unearthly vocal buzzes and drones of Mongolian throat-singing on “Rovers of Wonder.”
Sands, who plays guitar, whistle, banjo, and dotara, a stringed Indian instrument, as well as singing, shares his music’s power to heal (the high-spirited “Send for Maguire” and ethereal “A Stór Mo Chroí”), to rally (“Make Those Dreams Come True,” “Time for Asking Why”), to pay tribute to the departed (“The Song Sings On: Ballad of Tommy Makem,” “You Will Never Grow Old,” a gentle farewell to Sands’ late brother Dino), to fight prejudice (“Keep On Singing”), to unite people (the title song), and to celebrate Ireland’s natural beauty amid ongoing social change (“Fields of Daisies,” “Carlingford Bay”). The CD’s misty, welcoming opener, “Young Man’s Dream,” is Tommy’s “translation/part transcreation” of an ancient Gaelic song which would much later become Ireland’s most famous ballad, “Danny Boy.” This dream song, so apt for today, dates back more than 500 years, drawing us to “an island dreaming where the heart is free,” where “the dream of love, it belongs to all.”
Sands’ musical inclusiveness extends to enlisting his daughter Moya (fiddle, bodhran, whistle, vocals), son Fionán (banjo, mandolin, backing vocals), his Sands Family siblings and additional musicians including guitarist Arty McGlynn (Van Morrison, Patrick Street, Christy Moore), guitarist/bassist Steve Cooney (Sinead O’Connor, The Chieftains), and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Tom Newman (Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells), among others, to perform on Let the Circle be Wide.