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Private Label KCAW001

Kate’s a very experienced singer, reared in the Randalstown area of Northern Ireland, who’s spent a good part of her life in Canada prior to her return to the Derry area some years ago. In Canada she recorded a couple of albums, and I’m surprised that it took her so long to get into a studio on this side of the pond. But she’s used the time well, picking up songs from around her home area to add to the predominantly Irish songs she learned in Canada.

On this CD she sings a wide variety of songs in her trademark high, clear register, all accompanied by a wealth of very able musicians such as Laoise Kelly and Martin Tourish (who also produced the recording), and the result is a polished, professional CD that will, I’m sure, appeal to an audience well beyond the trad/folk enthusiasts that most recordings reviewed in this magazine are aimed at.

There are songs here for everyone, from two excellently performed numbers in Irish (which seem to suit Kate’s voice eminently), through the sentimental Kitty Bawn O’Brien and My Lovely Irish Rose to a version of the Jacobite Blackbird, prefaced by Laoise Kelly’s excellent interpretation of the air. There was also an interesting Canadian version of the Franklin story, to the usual air, but with a couple more verses than usual. Another very pleasant surprise was Kate’s husband Lee Cadieux playing his own waltz composition, The Old Canal, which sounded as if you could get up and do a nice relaxed bourrée to it – there must be some Breton genes in among the French Canadian influence. The sleeve notes are informative and fill out a lot of the background to the songs and where Kate picked them up.

Reservations? Only one really, and that’s more about an omission than anything else; I’ve heard Kate sing on many occasions and I know what a good job she can do on songs sung in a more purely traditional style, as opposed to the very finely crafted and finished form showcased here. It would have been good to hear a bit more of that side of her repertoire.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.