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Connoisseur Records CRCD 3054

More and more, I've found myself trying to define or come to a truer understanding on just exactly what makes the difference between the good, the not so good, the right and the not so right. Now, I am talking here in terms of Traditional and Traditional-based music and song. Many have laid down the correct "Rules and Guidelines" for performers of Traditional material before and indeed there are already many "academically trained and qualified traditional music performers" - some you may even enjoy. So here are three points that are deciding plus or minus factors for me - tone, timing and choice of material. Scoring highly in all three areas is this CD from Nancy Conescu and Gerry Harrington.

Gerry Harrington I've heard and enjoyed before on several CDs. On "The Fiddle The Voice", his playing, as ever, is of the older style and tempo with none of your smoothed out post-, production work so all of the instrument's heart is revealed, as in tracks four and five, 'Lament for O'Donnell', 'Fitzgerald's', 'Fiddler's Green', 'Sheehan's Jigs', 'The Duck in the Oats' and 'The Munster Jig'. These are just two sample tracks from what is an immediately enjoyable and satisfying recording which includes reels, hornpipes, slides, jigs and polkas.

There is also some fine accompanying guitar work from Nancy Conescu which comes as an additional bonus to her interesting selection of the songs. I only know of Nancy Conescu, from New York and Oregon, through this recording, she certainly knows how to sing. Her version of 'Death and the Lady' is a tad fast but in no way rushed, she captures much of the angry sadness in, 'The May Morning Dew' that is so often missed by other singers and manages to make the Appalachian song of parting and separation, 'Pretty Saro', fit right into place on this album of Irish Music.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.