KARAN CASEY "Distant Shore" Vertical Records VERTCD064

I must admit to having been a fan of Karan since I first heard her singing in the band Solas. Now that she has struck out on her own she seems to have shed any inhibitions she may have had working within the confines of a structured 'band' format. I suppose a lot of it, particularly on this recording should be thanks to the critical ear of her producer Donald Shaw who certainly knows a thing or two about musical construction. Where he could have utilised the services of the accompanying musicians (a veritable superstar line-up including Michael McGoldrick, Niall Vallely etc) on every number, it is his thoughtful sparseness on tracks such as The Song Of Lies where the beauty of the lyrics are unhindered by over embellishment. Don't get me wrong, there is the unmistakeable Capercaillie groove where Karan is joined for a duet by guest Karen Matheson on the Gaelic Lord MacDonald's or the jazz-tinged Bata is Bothar but again, the production isn't allowed to distract the listener from the vocal performance. The mention of the dreaded words folk-rock will undoubtedly come into the equation somewhere but that would be to miss the point entirely. No, this is an album of restraint and all the more poetic for it.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.