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NA LEANAÍ SANDS - Kindred Roots

NA LEANAÍ SANDS - Kindred Roots
Ryan Records RR1053

Though growing up performing songs and tunes learned principally (though not exclusively) from their parents (Co. Down’s celebrated Sands Family), this new quintet was formed on an official basis only last year, since which time it has by all accounts already taken the Irish music scene by storm (their stage debut was opening for Craobh Rua at the prestigious Fiddlers Green Festival in Rostrevor!).

Na Leanaí (meaning “the children”) comprises Anne’s daughters Sorcha Turnbull and Eimear Keane, Ben’s daughter Ryanne Sands, Hugh’s son Fra Sands and Tommy’s daughter Moya. All of them sing (well), with each taking a lead (or, in the case of Moya and Ryanne, two) over the course of the album, while instrumentally textures are clean and uncluttered, with good use made of fiddle, whistles, guitar, flute and bodhrán. Matt McGinn, who co-produced the album, also contributes some bass guitar, percussion and harmony vocals.

The menu – all songs bar one tune-medley (Breton Set) – is largely traditional and (perhaps more surprisingly) not specifically Irish. The album kicks off with Moya’s two leads – Saucy Sailor and Jenny Jenkins – both given vital readings, the latter especially exuding a sense of fun-in-performance that’s really infectious. Other well-realised selections include Eimear’s thoughtful take on The Crow And The Cradle and Sorcha’s nicely paced Auld Lang Syne (for all that it’s positioned in the middle of the CD) – but then, Colum Sands’ lovely The Night Is Young makes for a rather logical disc finale. The standout tracks for me, though, are Winter Trees (written by The Staves and featuring Ryanne backed by some gorgeous harmonies) and Eimear’s delightful composition, Northern Star.

Altogether, it’s a strong debut, its only weak point being its undue brevity – a mere 34 minutes.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.