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CÉIDE Out Of Their Shell

Out Of Their Shell
Céide CCD. 002

This Mayo-based outfit released their debut Like A Wild Thing in 2001, and at the time I forecast a promising future for them. However, its follow-up has been a long time in coming, I'd guess possibly due to the expansion of the line-up into a six-piece with the addition of fine singer Marianne Knight (who also plays flute and bodhrán) - though somewhat confusingly Marianne only appears on six of the album's thirteen tracks.

The thoughtful and sensibly restrained attack of the instrumental playing that I'd noted on Céide's debut CD is still there in plenty, with if anything perhaps an even better-defined sense of proportion in the balance between the front-line (melody) and rhythm parts, as the set of reels at track three in particular demonstrates. Céide also continue to exhibit a flair for inspired instrumental arrangements, with unusual touches like employing no less than three whistles in counterpoint on Charlie Lennon's Wedding March that opens track four and weaving a dobro around in the texture on the Air & Reel set at track eight. Then again, the spirited set of polkas (track nine) shows what a stunning and complete sound just three instruments (here Tom Doherty's accordion, Brian Lennon's flute and John McHugh's fiddle) can make, and Tom's exchanges accordion for melodeon on the track twelve set of reels to good effect. The thunderous CD closer is another, even more rousing set of reels.

As for the songs, well I liked Marianne's pacey, refreshingly unsentimentalised treatment of John O' Dreams, but I found her tone and effort a little too forthright for Declan Askin's beautiful, optimistic Western Waves (it needs a gentler approach I feel). It also took a couple of plays for me to be convinced by the almost rockabilly-jazz treatment of Bold Donnelly, with its dare-to-be-different driving rhythm, but Marianne seems more in her element on Man In The Moon (the one popularised by Andy M. Stewart). The expertly clean production is by ex-Dervish man Seamie O'Dowd (who also guests on dobro, fiddles and electric guitar). And another bonus point for the booklet notes, which are detailed and welcomingly informative.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.