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LIZ CARROLL - "Lost in the Loop" - Green Linnet GLCD 1199

Liz Carroll is the original female Irish-American fiddle prodigy. Her early recordings have recently been re-released by Shanachie, and her previous recording on Green Linnet is still a classic. I say "still", because it's now ten years since that album. In the meantime, Liz founded Trian with Billy McComiskey and her old sideman Daithi Sproule, and she also found time to rear a family.

This new recording shows the maturity and consideration you'd expect after such a long gap. At first I thought the power and passion wasn't there: slow tunes were very much in evidence, and the pace seemed generally slacker. Then I listened more carefully, and I realised that Liz still had fire and flair in abundance but that it all flowed so effortlessly that it was easy just to let the music wash over you. "Lost in the Loop" is a truly schizoid album: play it low and it'll lull you to sleep, turn it up and it'll knock your socks off!

As well as being a fabulous fiddler, Liz Carroll is one of the finest composers of traditional tunes. Her "Wisahicken Drive" has been covered by almost everyone, and the number of recordings which boast a tune called simply "Liz Carroll's" is enormous. Here she gives us a fiddler's dozen of her own tunes, including her first ever composition, a lovely wee jig with a very long name. If it's fire you're after, try The "Golden Legs" which leads into the traditional "Flogging Reel", or the opening set of reels which likewise combines a Carroll tune with some old favourites. On the slower side we get two gorgeous slow airs by Liz and one by Daithi Sproule, as well as a few slow reels and descriptive pieces.

There's plenty more good stuff in the fourteen tracks here, including straight and kinky takes on traditional tunes, and Liz is supported by some of the best Irish and Irish-American musicians around. It all adds up to a very fine album indeed. The sleeve notes are rather terse, but the music speaks for itself. The Mayor of Chicago obviously thought so: he recently declared that September 18th was to be known as Liz Carroll Day!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 38 of The Living Tradition magazine.