Altan - Local Ground
Vertical Records VERTCD069

Altan is a group synonymous with amazing Donegal traditional music. Their tenth and latest studio album Local Ground is no exception to this. Featuring a mix of English and Irish-language songs and tunes, they have spiced things up this time around with a host of guest performers. The album is light and refreshing; the music always moving and changing, rather like a summer breeze.

The distinctively recognizable voice of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh begins and ends the album on two quite different notes. ‘Eirigh ‘s cuir ort do chuid eadaigh’ is a jaunty, up-beat number, while the closing lullaby ‘Dun Do Shuil’ has a gentle air to it. The instrumental and vocal pieces in between maintain a sense of deceptive simplicity. The arrangements are all beautifully done to highlight the lead instrument. The accompanying instruments are where this album really shines. Along with the members of Altan, Triona Ni Dhomhnaill’s piano, Donnal Lunny’s guitar and Jim Higgins’ bodhrán all add unique dimensions to the music. A particular highlight of the recording is the inclusion of Carlos Nunez playing Gaita (Gallician bagpipes) on two tracks.

The album moves very fluidly, with each track evoking its own mood. There is not a single mis-step on the whole recording. Each piece is wonderfully done and the finished whole is likely to find itself fast becoming a classic. Talent like this ensures that the Donegal musical tradition continues unbroken. Local Ground is a fresh, invigorating album that is not to be missed.

Jean Price

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The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 63 of The Living Tradition magazine.