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OISÍN & CONAL HERNON - Across the Sound

OISÍN & CONAL HERNON - Across the Sound
Cló Iar-Chonnacht CICD199

Brothers Oisín and Conal come from Inis Mór in the Aran Islands, a location that has many associations with musical tradition. Between the two they have nine All-Ireland titles, and their musical heritage comes through their grandfather, Michael “Inky” Craven, to whom they have dedicated this album of original compositions. The thing is, you would never know that they were original tunes, as they immediately sound as if they’ve been played for decades, which is always the mark of excellent composition in the traditional style.

Conal features on banjo, and also on guitar, bouzouki, bass, keyboards and percussion, whilst Oísin turns his hand to accordion, melodeon and whistle. They’re more than ably accompanied byTara Breen, fiddle; Locko Cullen, bouzouki; Jim Higgins, percussion; Tommy Keane, uilleann pipes; and Eugene Killeen, strings, bass and percussion.

The overall sound is as fresh as the Atlantic wind that blows across the Aran Islands, every note as crisp and clear as you could wish, played with a verve and drive which not only showcases their writing and playing abilities, but also highlights their innate understanding of their music. The overall engineering and mixing, by the brothers and Eugene, is also worth a comment as well. Box and banjo can sometimes be an overpowering mixture for other instruments to compete with, but here we have a splendid example of how to get it right, with everyone’s contribution clearly coming across.

No real surprise, as Cló Iar-Chonnacht have one of the highest levels of consistency in producing that I’ve come across. My only ‘complaint’ about this CD is that it finishes too quickly – time to write some more tunes, boys!

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.