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TÉADA - Coiscéim Coiligh (As The Days Brighten) 

TÉADA - Coiscéim Coiligh (As The Days Brighten) 
Gael Linn CEFCD218 

Trad Irish music and song from one of the finest groups on the circuit at the minute, this sixth studio release from Téada sees them celebrating 21 years together, and shows exactly why they have remained at the top of their game during this time.

Fiddle, flute and accordion are backed by guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán and keyboard, and while there are times when everyone is in, and the arrangements are pretty full, there are also plenty of times when the different instruments come in and drop out appropriately, giving a great sense of light and shade and the scope to hear each individual musician clearly. I often feel that knowing how to do this well is the mark of an outfit that is special (I’m thinking Altan, Dervish, Danu) and Téada is up there with the best of them.

The tunes featured are either traditional, or composed by respected writers in a traditional style (e.g. James Kelly, Ed Reavy, John Sheahan). It starts fairly fast and furious with a set of reels including two from the pen of Seán Ryan, but the next tune-set changes the tempo with two slowed-down reels and a barndance from Donegal; the beginning of the set showcases the beautiful tone and delicate touch of Oisín Mac Diarmada’s fiddle and deceptively simple guitar from Seán Mc Elwain – really tasty stuff. Jigs, hornpipes, marches and more reels follow, there’s even an air unusually sandwiched between a jig and a march – the music is always varied, always interesting, and always just slightly different.

As if that wasn’t enough, Teada claims the mighty Séamus Begley as its resident vocalist, and over four songs here, he is at his velvety-voiced best. His rendition of Oileán Dhun An Óir is sublime, with beautiful backing by guitar and Séamus’ own accordion, along with really subtle drones and chords from the others. Again, the band members flow in and out of his piano-accompanied The Snowy Breasted Pearl, which just oozes class. Bringing something of a ‘novelty-factor’, he is joined by the Irish American Oscar nominated actor, John C. Reilly, for Percy French’s Eileen Óg. The duet would no doubt be great fun to do live when they can, and John sings well - though I’d rather just have another track of Séamus if I’m honest.

Téada is proud to re-energise rare tunes from the Irish tradition, and on Coiscéim Coiligh they have done a fantastic job yet again. Great tunes, mightily played, with a Séamus Begley cherry on top - definitely one to get your hands on.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 145 of The Living Tradition magazine