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From Limerick, but strongly influenced by lyrical Clare reels on one side and bouncy Sliabh Luachra dance music on the other, this concertina player has recorded with the group Four Winds and with piper Tom Delany before presenting her solo debut. Still at the beginning of what should be a glittering career, Caroline Keane has made a name for herself as a player to watch - and with her concertina in hand she does Shine. Slides, jigs, waltzes, polkas, hornpipes and even a barndance: that Munster feel is clear in the choice of material here, and it's a couple of tracks before Caroline launches into reels, although they account for a third of this CD overall. Starting with a lovely trio of lesser-known slides, Keane pulls out harmonies and high notes, variation and improvisation, showing rare dexterity. Her playing is clean and bright on The Old Flail, The Roscommon Reel, The Flood On The Holm and a great range of tunes old and new, including a couple of her own.

Two slower tracks show a more contemplative side of Caroline's music, both with only guitar to support the concertina. Elsewhere there are a number of guest musicians: Tom Delany and Robbie Walsh from Four Winds, Laura Kerr and Jeremy Spencer on fiddles, Alex Brown's cello, Ryan Molloy's piano, and guitar from Conal O'Kane. It can be hard to tell who is playing what, as the instruments are so closely attuned. Shine gets inside your head, and it's almost a shock when it ends; every track makes its mark, and highlights are plentiful. I'd pick out Gerry O'Beirne's air, When You're Gone I Say Your Name, the menacing jig, Rock On The Clyde by multi-instrumentalist Bobby MacLeod who played pretty much everything except concertina, and the reel, Strawberry Blossom, in a lively arrangement with the uilleann pipes. There are samples online, so I'm sure you'll find your own favourites.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine