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LUNASA 'The Kinnitty Sessions' Compass Records 743772

The old Irish god Lugh was the patron of the arts, and had a festival called Lunasa from which this group take their name. If their music is anything to go by, that must have been a mighty festival indeed!

The title of this CD refers to the fact that it was recorded in front of an invited audience, but the engineers have still left this sounding like a 'live-in-studio' gig, not having any background whooping and cheering to interfere with the purity of the music. And there must have been whooping and cheering aplenty by anyone listening to this live, since this is, quite frankly, one of the finest recordings of Irish music that I have listened to in a long time. The precision of playing is immaculate, the interweaving of the instrumentation is stunningly good, and the balance is all that you could ever ask for.

Bassist Trevor Hutchinson and guitarist Donogh Hennessey lay down an unshakable powerhouse of a rhythmic centre, whilst fiddler Sean Smith, piper Cillian Vallely and flautist / whistle player Kevin Crawford each allow themselves enough improvisation around the tunes to add new sparkle and zest every time you listen. The interaction that the band has developed over their years of playing together has synthesised into a complete mastery of their craft, and they truly raise their music to consistently higher standards.

If you only buy one Irish traditional CD this year, this must surely be the one.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.