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CARA DILLON "Sweet Liberty" Rough Trade RTRADECD123

This is Derry born Cara Dillon's second release, recorded at her home studio in Somerset - a beautiful collection of traditional and contemporary songs, guaranteed to bathe your senses in a sublime soundscape. The musical accompaniment is at times elegant and sparse, and at others sensual and lavish, and very Celtic. Through Cara Dillon's crystal clear vocal shines her wonderful Derry accent, with intriguing nuances of both Karan Casey and Kate Bush; the musicianship is much finer than on her first album - with Sam Lakeman (keyboards), Ben Nicholls (double bass), Calum MacColl (guitars), James O'Grady (uileann pipes), and Liam Bradley (drums). Guests include Brian Finnegan on flute and Caroline Dale on cello.

The album opens with a very graceful violin and cello introduction to 'High Tide', and Cara's delicate vocal is enough to convince you that the rest of the album is going to be beautiful. Cara's hometown, Dungiven in County Derry, inspires much of the album, and 'The Winding River Roe' and 'Gem Of The Roe' are perfect examples. On the lyrical song Everywhere, I am reminded of the singing of Kate Bush, as I am again later on 'Falling Like A Star'. These two self-penned songs on which Sam Lakeman accompanies Cara on piano are very memorable. A real standout track is Tommy Sands' 'There Were Roses', from Billy Connolly's BBC TV World Tour series. This song is a poignant portrayal of the Northern Ireland troubles - the tragedy behind the words sends a shiver down your spine.

A lovely album; the perfect blend of beautiful Celtic female voice and excellent musicianship. It might seem a little too perfect to some, but it's certain to help wash away the cares of life at the end of the day.

Debbie Koritsas

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The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.