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THE O’CAROLAN FAMILY - A Language Within

THE O’CAROLAN FAMILY - A Language Within
Private Label

Lively and cheering, A Language Within is a fine debut album from three young Derry musicians. An assortment of jigs, reels, waltzes, barn-dances and slow airs comprise nine tracks of tunes. Traditional in tone, these are largely composed by the siblings and other contemporaries – Steven O’Carolan contributing to, or writing, seven of them. Three traditional songs are also included, namely the beautiful The West Awake, Eppie Morrie and Wild Mountainside. Ciara McCafferty takes the lead vocal on these tracks.

With hints of such groups as Altan, Bothy Band and Solas, the trio manages to retain the authenticity and atmosphere of traditional Irish music – while including occasional Balkan and Bulgarian influences! In addition to the siblings themselves a total of 10, largely local, musicians help create a stirring but always melodic sound, without ever resorting to the power of noise.

Mood and pace vary throughout the tracks, from high-tempo polkas to slow airs (on the low whistle) and a delightful harp on a lullaby. None could be described as dull!

A well-presented album cover includes brief but intriguing sleeve notes, explaining the origins of the tunes.

Produced by Steven O'Carolan and engineered by Dave Sheridan, A Language Within exudes warmth, vitality and joy in the music, and exemplifies how the old and the new can be blended for today’s listeners. Easy on the ear, yet invigorating, this accomplished and accessible album surpasses what might be expected from a debut and augers well for the future.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.