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CRAN "Lover's Ghost" Black Rose Records BRRCD003

This is Cran's third album, and their third label. The title is unusually appropriate, as the predominance of wind instruments gives a haunting, romantic tone to most of the fourteen tracks (55 mins). The flutes, whistles and pipes of Desi Wilkinson and Ronan Browne provide eight instrumental tracks at a lovely relaxed pace. Here are none of the frenzied, homogeneous reels favoured by many younger groups; instead we find set dances, highlands, marches, slow airs and slow reels, and some sparkling examples of the humble jig given unaccustomed prominence. Sean Corcoran's strong and gentle strings complement the tunes beautifully, but guitar and bouzouki are left aside for five of Sean's six songs on this recording. This laudable restraint contributes greatly to the eerie, almost hypnotic mood of "Lover's Ghost" - the unaccompanied vocal harmonies in English and Irish are highly effective, and the impression of magical unreality grows as this album unfolds.

The whole experience is extraordinary - close your eyes and you can imagine yourself in a land of legends and spirits (and superb musicians, of course). There isn't really a downside to this one. Sure, there are occasional technical errors, but the deep understanding and joy in the music makes up for them a hundredfold. If traditional music stirs your heart and soul, you should listen to "Lover's Ghost". One more point: this CD has the most beautiful sleeve notes I've seen in a long time. Every page is set on a detailed photograph of one of Cran's instruments. The result is extremely attractive, and adds to the overall impression of depth and feeling in Cran's music

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.