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TRIPTYCH - Triptych

TRIPTYCH - Triptych
Private Label TTCD1101

A trio, of course: Montreal fiddler Laura Risk, Boston Irish singer Paddy League, and a lady stepdancer who goes by the name Kieran Jordan, Triptych take a pleasingly understated approach to mainly Irish and Scottish music. Theirs is a quite contemporary acoustic style, sparse melodies set against criss-crossing rhythms, but the delicate touch and precise intonation are timeless. Laura's fiddle fronts nine tracks, with Paddy only rarely plucking the melody, although he sings three songs and adds drums to his rhythmic guitar. Kieran's feet grace all but two tracks: using a variety of shoes and surfaces, her contribution ranges from subtle sean nós shuffles to full-on tap steps. Combining music and step dance is a strong Canadian thread which is spreading fast, and this recording can only help: Kieran's feet are wonderfully expressive as she weaves around guitar and fiddle. The visual side of her performance is obviously absent on a CD, but the website gives some idea of Kieran's presence on stage.
So what's on these twelve tracks? Four old Scottish reels which show Laura's affinity with the playing of Alasdair Fraser, a powerful up-tempo Irish Gaelic song of unrequited love, two luscious Irish hornpipes, a quirky League slow jig and an earthy Galician march, William Jackson's air The House On The Hill which seems bland by comparison, and another pair of jigs with Paddy's catchy composition Lady Washington ending the first half of this debut CD. Side two (remember those?) starts with another striking Irish vocal, a poem set to music by Mr League, moving into a high-energy set of Canadian reels, before two more tasty Paddy tunes and some bewildering rhythms bring us to the final three jigs. There are a couple of weak points - a Ewan McColl song which doesn't quite measure up to the Gaelic numbers, and a version of Cailín an Tí Mór which steps alarmingly out of its Celtic mode - but the rest of this recording is excellent. Stripping away the layers of larger groups to reveal the music underneath, Triptych show that less can be more than enough.
Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.