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These days the Irish music world is full of technically brilliant young players recording music they have mastered with ease, and it's rare to hear an album by more mature musicians who are still getting to grips with the traditional repertoire. In some ways it's good to be reminded that not all musicians are virtuosi, not all tunes need to be played as fast as possible, and it's fine to enjoy a more relaxed and less polished performance of traditional music. This duo presents a good hour of tunes old and new, mostly Irish, with a touch of Scots and a strong Stateside flavour: Tina Eck plays flute and whistles, and Keith Carr alternates between accompaniment and melody on bouzouki and banjo. Lilt have been performing together for a decade around Washington DC, and this is their fourth album. They are joined by many well-known musicians from the Irish music community along the east coast of America: Donna Long, Billy McComiskey, Seán Heely and others.

The forty-something tunes here show a long and attentive exposure to Irish music, and the notes explain some of the hows and whys. There's a broad range of forms, a modest number of jigs and reels alongside slow airs, polkas, marches, set dances and slip jigs, and even a barndance. The leisurely pace of most tracks makes this an ideal aid for learners - Brenda Stubbert's Reel, Going To Mass On Sunday and Ms Johnson trot gently along, eschewing the usual gallop. Tina's flute fronts most numbers, and at times she seems to be too focused on technical performance to put much of herself into the music. Keith's accompaniment is strong and steady, and his banjo melodies are spot on, as are the many guest contributions. X has the feel of a fireside session rather than a concert, and might appeal to aspiring flute players.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine