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Private Label SLFOR003 

Québec fiddler, piano player and singer Sophie Lavoie and uilleann piper and whistle player Fiachra O'Regan from Connemara are joined by guitarist André Marchand (of La Bottine Souriante fame) for this, their third album.

Guest musicians John Carty on banjo, Malo Carvou on Irish flute, Jacques Landry on bones and Daniel Roy on harmonica, jaws harp and dulcimer, help to add colour, depth and variety to the overall sound. André's subtle and understated guitar playing underpins the whole thing giving it a solid coherence. Sophie's fiddle playing and Fiachra's piping are steady and tight – they've been touring together since 2008!

The album is a mix of songs and tunes and it draws on the music of both Québec and Ireland, along with a few more modern compositions in the traditional style, which sit perfectly with the others. An unusual aspect is the instrumentation – the use of uilleann pipes in the Québecois tunes adds a completely different dimension to them, but it works really well. The arrangements and song/tune combinations throughout the album are excellent, with plenty of variety to keep the listener engaged.

The album kicks off with a cracking set consisting of a traditional song and tunes La Brune Et Les Trois Brigands, Le Casse-Reel À Aimé Gagnon, Le Reel Modal and Les Rois. The set morphs nicely from the song to the tunes, which weave and wind through a creative arrangement varying in feel and tempo but always keeping a lively spirit. All the tracks are interesting with a few stand outs - Danse Des Fleurs / Y'était Temps / The Keel Row swings along and, by contrast, their version of Peadar Ó'Riada's Spórt on pipes and piano is a steady, stately performance. There's not a bad track here!

This is a lovely album with great musicianship and an overall gentle joi de vivre which effortlessly combines the music of both the Québecois and Irish traditions. Highly recommended.

Jim Byrne

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.