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DIANE NÍ CHANAINN - Idir Muir Agus Sliabh 

DIANE NÍ CHANAINN - Idir Muir Agus Sliabh 
Cló Iar-Chonnacht CICD207 

A most interesting and enjoyable CD, which grew on me surprisingly quickly, and for reasons that seemed unlikely. Nine songs as Gaeilge are joined by three in English; all are traditional, and yet all are sung (and accompanied) in a very contemporary style. This could easily be somewhat off-putting if insensitively or ham-fistedly done, but in all cases it’s carried off with style, confidence and ability.

Diane’s singing has led her to accolades at an t’Oireachtas, and her familiarity with her North West Donegal tradition is the result of long-time family immersion in the music, plus a good deal of research into the subject – including the songs of Tory Island, that intriguing cultural outpost off the north coast. There are echoes of other singers who’ve drunk from the same well; the Ni Dhomhnaill sisters, Éamonn Mac Ruairi, even (stylistically) Connie Mhary Mhicí Ó Gallachóir. But there’s something else about her voice – a suggestion of Dolores Keane. In any company, those names represent quality, and Diane has a quality that’s uniquely her own.

This is accentuated by the accompaniments, produced and in many cases performed by Manus Lunny, augmented by the pipes and flute of Michael McGoldrick, among others. On one track she’s joined on vocals by another of the area’s great singers (and song scholars) Lillis Ó Laoire; it’s an interesting Tory version of An Draighneán Donn, sung as a male/female conversation, and together with the English language Lough Erne’s Shore (which is stunning), formed particular points of interest. Old songs for the 21st century – buy it, you won’t regret it.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine