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CARA - Yet We Sing

CARA - Yet We Sing
Artes Records ARCD4050

Not to be confused with the British band of the same name, this is a five-piece outfit based in Germany, comprising four of that country’s most experienced Celtic musicians and noted Edinburgh singer-songwriter-pianist, Kim Edgar. They’ve weathered a few line-up changes over their 12-year existence thus far, and Yet We Sing, their fifth album, was launched very recently, at this year’s Celtic Connections. They deliver an attractive and engaging take on Celtic music, with a definitively contemporary yet thoroughly accessible slant and a smooth, accomplished instrumental blend.

It turns out that Kim’s only been with Cara for a relatively short time, but on this evidence she’s certainly placed her own individual stamp on the band’s sound – and indeed its repertoire. The disc opens with one of her own compositions, the gently soaring A Leaf For A Sail, and later on we get to hear her distinctive take on The Elfin Knight, one of the album’s high points. Another is the stirring opus, Cain’s War (written just one day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre), which reflects bitterly on the incapacity of mankind to learn from its mistakes. Anchor In The Sky is a redeveloped version of one of Kim’s earlier successes (Fixed). Gudrun Walther, the second of the band’s lead vocalists, is responsible for Cara’s account of the ballad of Little Musgrave; this rather belies its expansive eight-minute timespan by its comparative lightness of touch (and some may find its almost casual air as the tale unfolds a tad lacking in dramatic impetus).

Kim’s elegant keyboard work underpins much of the disc, and its sound is central to the organic arrangements which, though characterised by a determined sense of drive, nonetheless exhibit a sense of genial musicianship that feels no need to prove itself in terms of virtuosity. The disc’s instrumental items, which principally take the form of original tunes composed in the Celtic style, are pleasing rather than barnstorming, with a sunny and relaxed quality and employing occasional dobro as well as the standard guitar, fiddle, uilleann pipes, flute, whistle, accordion and bodhrán instrumentation, to good effect. Cara’s piper, Hendrik Morgenbrot, contributes the CD’s most spirited set (The Exploding Case), which I would’ve been tempted to put on instant replay were it not for the delicious, reassuring title song (penned by Gudrun) that closes the disc most beautifully.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.