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CALADH NUA - Free And Easy

CALADH NUA - Free And Easy
Private Label CN004

I first encountered this young Irish five-piece back in 2010, enjoying its easygoing musicianship on the album Happy Days. Six years on, and there have been a couple of changes in personnel (with Brian Mooney on banjo and bouzouki replacing Eoin O’Meachair, and Caoimhín Ó Fearghail taking over from Colm O’Caoimh on guitar, and now adding flute to the band’s armoury), but the twin-fiddle complement (Paddy Tutty and Lisa Butler) remains, as does Derek Morrissey on button accordion. Together they make a rich yet precisely poised sound, with an acute feel for colour and group dynamic, letting the music speak for itself without intrusive displays of technique, so that it’s not a simple matter to single out any individual’s contribution. Befitting the derivation of “caladh” (harbour or place of shelter), the band members appear comfortable with their talents, whether on tunes or songs.

The latter – four in number – are sensitively and appealingly handled by the band’s singer Lisa, whose sweetness of timbre proves better matched to some material than others – the charming The Doll In Cash’s Window (collected from Jimmy Crowley) and the enigmatic Cork song Bó Na Leathadhairce work better than The Wind In The Willows – aka Alan Bell’s Bread And Fishes – and the darker ballad of Lord Abore And Mary Flynn. As for the tune-sets, these range nicely through various forms and tempos, and encompass instrumental treatments of song melodies, and originals by Charlie Lennon, Ed Reavy, Michael Dwyer and Johnny Doherty as well as some less-frequently-heard gems of the repertoire. The waltz-time set (track 5) is particularly enchanting, while the faster pace of the track 9 reel-set is neatly managed too, breathtaking but not feeling rushed, and the closing set pairs a delicately phrased song transcription with a more animated pair of reels. The album’s title is well chosen, for sure.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.