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The Celtic Conspiracy CELCON003

Flute, fiddle and song from an American duo who are releasing a CD for each season of the year. This one represents summer and is also themed around exile and emigration. The main attraction for me is the warm rich wooden flute of Hanz Araki, one of several young stateside exponents who are following Chris Norman's example and matching the Irish on their own instrument. The flute features prominently on the opening set of jigs, the showpiece hornpipe City Of Savannah and the slow air Leaving Glasgow. Araki is not quite as impressive on the reels, but together with Claire's fiddle the duo makes a fine job of The Steampacket, The Sailor On The Rock and the Shetland classic New Rigged Ship among others. Kathryn Claire's fiddle is a key ingredient of the arrangements throughout The Emigrant's Song and shines on instrumentals including The Rolling Waves, The Japanese Hornpipe and that fine old Irish reel, The Holy Land.

Both Hanz and Kathryn sing and eight of the 14 tracks here are songs, all well known traditional or similar numbers. The Four Loom Weaver and Farewell To Fiunary were standards of the Scottish folk revival and are strongly sung by Hanz. Craigie Hill and New Holland Grove refer to Irish emigration and Kathryn delivers them at a slower tempo than usual, which is surprisingly effective. The Isle Of France may be familiar from the recent Lau recording, a hard act to follow: Araki and Claire make a brave attempt. My Johnny Was A Shoemaker doesn't add much to the album, but the modern workers' laments Farewell Johnny Miner and The Grey Funnel Line are both powerful duets. The combination of song and music makes this a very enjoyable recording and there is still one more release to look forward to in the series.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.