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MARY MacNAMARA "The Blackberry Blossom" Claddagh Records CCF32CD

Mary MacNamara is from Tulla in County Clare, just along the road from Martin Hayes. She plays concertina in the Clare style, not as laid-back as Martin but relaxed and bouncy with plenty of lift. This is her second solo album, and she's joined on some tracks by her brother Andrew on button box, fellow Clarewoman Geraldine Cotter on suitably discreet piano, and the fine flute-playing of Catherine McEvoy (an interloper from County Roscommon via Birmingham). As you'd expect with this line-up, the sound is very traditional and melodic.

In fifteen tracks and 42 minutes, Mary sticks mainly to Irish session tunes. About half the album is reels, and the other half is quite varied. This is a very pleasant album for listening to, with nothing startling or out of place. Mary is no virtuoso, but she plays very competently and is obviously comfortable with the traditional repertoire. Her fingerwork could be a little crisper, and at times there is a lack of expression (the one slow track is a definite low point), but all in all this is a very respectable and enjoyable recording.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.