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REALTA - Clear Skies

REALTA - Clear Skies
Private Label ADC002

One set of uilleann pipes good, two sets better, as George Orwell might have said around the time he was writing Animal Farm. If the personality of many of the best Irish bands is defined by their line-ups, then Realta are off to a flyer with their pair of pipers chasing each other around the studio. Individually, Conor Lamb and Aaron O'Hagan would be enough fun to be going on with. Put them together, in a setting like that for The Rakes Of Clonmel, which their publicity calls “duelling pipes”, and the sparks really fly. There are other aspects to their superior musicianship which might be almost as enjoyable, but there is always a feeling of waiting for that uilleann wall of sound.

That publicity of theirs – a bold outfit to be sure – compares them with the Bothy Band. Whilst that may be a little extravagant at this early stage, there is an excitement about them that you don't often find in any genre of music. If you are in the business of making wild statements, then the way they staple their own take on the classic O'Carolan tune, Tabhair Dom Do Lamh, with the note-for-note Planxty version, is another mark of confidence.

If they have a weaker card in their hand, it is perhaps their singing, which hinges on several perfectly pleasant voices, but no dominant one. That is the only limitation that separates them from some of the legends with whom they have been bracketed. Still, comparisons are more odious than melodious and for now we should celebrate the joyous sound they make on their own account.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.