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FLORENCE FAHY - Tunes From The Flaggy Shore

FLORENCE FAHY - Tunes From The Flaggy Shore
Private Label

Florence is a young concertina player from Co. Clare (“Concertina County”!), born and bred in the small village of New Quay. She’s the daughter of famed concertina player Martin Fahy, from whom she’s learned a great deal of her repertoire – in the approved tradition of course. It’s good to read Florence’s autobiography in the booklet for this CD – which, amazingly for a musician of her stature, is a debut recording. We learn that she competed in Irish dancing before taking up the concertina, and clearly a very keen sense of rhythm and lift (characteristic of the North Clare style) imbues her playing, which is exciting in a wonderfully relaxed way. Just like the landscape of the Flaggy Shore, in fact, which has inspired Florence ever since her childhood. Her playing exhibits a humble natural virtuosity, a blissful inborn musicality, where each tune is delivered with an unerring sense of purpose and yet allows for felicitous spontaneity in expressive nuance.

On most of the album Florence is accompanied tastefully by Garry O Bhriain (on mandocello, piano or guitar) with his daughter Bebhinn joining in on flute for a couple of sets; the voltage steps up even higher when Florence is joined by Marien Collins’ sparky fiddle on three selections. But arguably the greatest satisfaction comes with the three tracks on which Florence is joined by her father in splendidly empathic and precise unison display, notably the set of reels and the gorgeous lilting pair of waltzes that close the disc. Florence also proves herself brilliantly – and breathtakingly – in a solo capacity on a set of barndances exactly midway through the album. Presentation is exemplary, with Florence’s own exceptionally informative and fully involved notes on the tunes meticulously crediting her sources, set amongst a generous selection of lovely photos from her personal album. I’m sure Florence won’t mind me paraphrasing Seamus Heaney if I entreat the reader thus: some time (soon) make the time to seek out this truly delectable gem of a CD!

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.