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THE ALT - Day Is Come 

THE ALT - Day Is Come 
Under The Arch Records UTACD002 

This is album number two from The Alt, a trio comprising three well-known names in Irish music on both sides of the Atlantic – John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary. Like their first recording in 2014, the focus here is very much on the traditional song and poetry of their native Ireland, and also like their first recording, this album is an absolute winner.

Instrumentally, you couldn’t get better than these three. John is one of the finest guitarists around, and it shines here, but in addition he adds fine bouzouki, mandola, bodhrán and keyboards. Eamon also plays bouzouki, and a very effective harmonium. The interplay between himself and John is an absolute delight – reminiscent of Planxty or Andy Irvine & Paul Brady in places. Nuala’s flute and whistles provide the backbone for the tunes and instrumental fills, and she is joined by the great Kevin Burke on fiddle on three of the tracks (as well as Marius Pibarot on fiddle on another).

But it is in the songs that this album really sets itself apart. The trio has the ear for a good song, and picks wisely. All three share the lead vocals, and harmonies (which are to die for) feature strongly. Eamon’s rendition of Willow Tree, by Pádraigín Ní Úallacháin is wistful and emotive – a real high point of the album - and I love his take on Paddy’s Land from Sam Henry’s Songs Of The People. Nuala leads a lovely version of Flower Of Northumberland, learned from Dick Gaughan, and John does a great job of Falkirk Fair, a song he found in the ITMA in Dublin. I also love the pairing of the song Páidín Ó Raifeartaigh with a couple of tunes (Lohan’s, written by John, and the traditional The Donegal Tinker – both featuring John’s incredible flatpicked guitar)

It’s really hard to sing the praises of this album enough. Three great voices, three great instrumentalists. Proper music done right!

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine