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Own Label CVCD 001

There aren't a lot of solo trad Irish piano CDs. The only comparable one I can think of is Donna Long's Handprints. There are plenty of piano accompaniment recordings, some with a few solo tracks, and of course there was Antoni O'Breski, but Strayaway is rather different. It spans the space between Micheál Ó Súilleabháin and Mary Mulholland, between the Irish concert pianist and the céili band Cinderellas. Caoimhín's lightness of touch on Paddy Fahy's will be the envy of both, and his own composition Unapproved Road could make it into either repertoire.

About half of Strayaway consists of well-known showpieces, one tune one track: Seán Ó Duibhir A'Ghleanna, The Whistler of Rossleigh, and the title track, all executed with skill and sensitivity. In between the set pieces are some straight reels and jigs to match any session musician. The piano brings an unusual quality to the dance music: there's a staccato edge to The Drunken Sailor which is faintly disturbing, a welcome fullness in the left hand of Slíabh Russell, a captivating hit-and-run approach on Ryan's Rant. And of course, as a Vallely, Caoimhín has instant access to his own house band: on a couple of tracks he's joined by brothers Niall and Cillian, virtual brother Paul Meehan, and a pair of fine drummers for roof-raising renditions of The Bunch of Keys and Neil Dickie's wonderful Kitchen Piper.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.