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LÚNASA "Redwood " Green Linnet GLCD1224

Album number four is a little more laid back than Lúnasa's previous recordings. Recorded in a relaxed Californian setting with almost no guest musicians, each of the eleven tracks is given room to breathe. There's a bit less yang, and a bit more ying, as they say in the Golden State, but every track in these forty-three minutes is a precious nugget.

'Cregg's Pipes' reworks a Bothy Band favourite and adds a pair of quirky little-known reels. 'Welcome Home' combines a Donegal jig with a sumptuous Junior Crehan tune and a jaunty new reel from Donogh Hennessy. 'Harp and Shamrock' slows down a couple of recent compositions, and 'Fest Noz' picks up the pace again in fine Breton style. 'Spoil the Dance' is a set of three great reels given the famous Lúnasa low whistle treatment, finishing off with Cillian Vallely's pipes rampant. Kevin Crawford's flute is enchanting on the slow air 'A Stór mo Chroí', and the 'Dublin to Dingle' set combines slip jigs and polkas with all the flair for which Lúnasa are justly famous. 'Lady Ellen' and 'Cotati Night's feature new tunes from band members, with some particularly fine fiddling from Seán Smyth. The album winds down with the Shooglenifty classic 'Two-Fifty to Vigo', a gorgeous tune given a mellow interpretation here, and then the 'Temple Hill' finale with Trevor Hutchinson's trademark basslines and the full Lúnasa sound plus a wee tickle from drummer Jim Higgins.

And there you have it. Another near-perfect CD from Ireland's best instrumental band. So far, the lads have avoided adding a female singer (today's ultimate fashion accessory). When you're this good you don't need to be trendy.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.