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Private Label LRCD005

There isn’t much to say about Lúnasa that hasn’t been said many times already. This is first class Irish music, and although much of it has been written by band members and friends, the tunes are all traditional in style. The musicianship is as good as you get - with fiddle, pipes, whistles and flute up front and that unmistakably Lúnasa guitar and bass backing. Since I last heard them, fiddle and whistle player Colin Farrell has joined the line-up (Kevin Crawford, Cillian Vallely, Séan Smyth, Ed Boyd and Trevor Hutchinson for the uninitiated), and Patrick Doocey adds an extra bit of guitar in places here too. The seven instrumental tracks on this album are faultless – my favourites being the Breton Pontivy, The Dregs Of Birch featuring multiple whistles (a classic Lúnasa sound), and The Cadgers set.

But the real surprise on this album, recorded to coincide with Lúnasa’s 20th anniversary, is that here we have a departure from the norm - five songs are included, each featuring a guest singer. At first this does feel quite strange, and very un-Lúnasa-like, but it turns out the lads are as skilled at song arrangement and accompaniment as they are at everything else! Singers featured include Tim O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Eric Bibb, but for me the highlights are Natalie Merchant singing The Bonny Light Horseman and Daoiri Farrell’s Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore – both of these seem to fit Lúnasa’s style slighty better than the others to my mind.

A cracker of an album, well worth having.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.