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CARA - Live

CARA - Live
Artes Records ARCD5010

Cara celebrates 15 years of activity with the release of their latest album, Live, their seventh album and one that rides high on their standing within the international folk community. It was recorded live in Germany during the band’s 2017 tour and celebrates its creative achievements to date and its development from a local German Celtic band to an international conglomeration since its inception in the mid-2000s.

The band has come a long way in the intervening years: firstly, in moving from an all-German line-up to a mixed Irish/Scots/German combination, now Scots/German; secondly in the rise in the proportion of original material used, with group members now freely contributing songs and tunes to the programme; and thirdly, in the addition of a lead singer who also happens to be a keyboard player and singer songwriter to the band. Introducing one such individual and assimilating them within a group line-up without it losing its identity is a battle which some outfits lose and others win. Kim Edgar had big shoes to fill (those of the departing Jeana Leslie) but she has acquitted herself well and assimilated within the Cara landscape.

The album kicks off with There Will Be Fog, with Hendrik Morgenbrodt’s mournful uilleann pipe drones and Gudrun Walther’s fiddle proving a fulsome front line, gently easing into piano/acoustic guitar and percussion, the complete sound full, strong and punchy. Ardkeen shows how well Kim Edgar has settled in – her setting of Twa Magicians uses her melodic voice to great advantage behind a soundscape redolent of Planxty’s Eastern European experiments. Hull’s and The Arm In The Cow show the band’s up-tempo agility and ferocity, while the epic ballads Lord Gregory and Little Musgrave are rendered sympathetically with unexpected semi-classical ambient and bluesy undercurrents. Heroes, an up-tempo set revelling in traditional dance styles and redolent of Altan, kicks to a mighty close full of life and fizz, while Moran Taing and Time For A Song end things on a high sweet note.

Cara Live neatly bookends the band’s recent arrivals, developments and musical evolution with grace and style. Well done all.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.