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GRADA - Natural Angle

Natural Angle
Compass Records 4528

Grada’s Irish rooted but World inspired music conspicuously draws more on American influences in this fifth release which was mixed and produced in Nashville by Grammy award winning folk, country and bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien, who also guests on three tracks. The twelve pieces include seven songs, mainly sung by Nicola Joyce; the others by guitarist Gerry Paul and, with a distinct New Zealand accent, bassist Andrew Laking. There are fewer of the previous jazzy inflections and Breton references. There are still tight chordal arrangements for the guitar and double bass, over which the fluent fiddle of David Doocey and Stephen Doherty’s flute and whistle dance alone, and together, in a range of moods, often interlocked to great and exhilarating effect.

The arrangements are still the group’s collective own, whether original or traditional, of which there is a roughly even split. The inclusion of guest banjo (Alison Brown) on two tracks, backing vocals by Odessa Jorgensen (Bearfoot), and Mississippi John Hurt’s Louis Collins characterise the move to a more obvious Irish-American feel than previous albums Endeavour (1994), The Landing Step (2002) and the more recent Cloudy Bay Navigation (2007) which was mixed in Dublin and mastered in Nashville. Tightly locked arrangements, with musicianship of great melodic fluency and dynamic, are the mainstay of another quality offering from this excellent group.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.