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DERVISH - The Thrush In The Storm

DERVISH - The Thrush In The Storm
Whirling Discs WHRL015

Taking its title from the aged bird ‘in blast-beruffled plume’ in Thomas Hardy’s classic poem, the name of one of its six tune sets, Dervish have, more expectedly, quarried their Irish folk tradition and composed heritage for their eleventh studio release.

Their two decades of experience together recently included an enriching experience as Leitrim band in residence 2011/12, the wellspring for some of the tunes and songs presented here. Indeed, the feeling of close attachment to their home roots is rather akin to that so palpably evident on singer Cathy Jordan’s recent solo project.

Dervish’s music is characterised by fluent flute and fiddle lines over and amid layered instrumentation that create a whirling and swirling interweaving of melodies and rhythms, well befitting their name. Accordion and several stringed things (guitar, mandolin, mandola and bouzouki) provide textures and rhythmic undercurrent, abetted by Cathy’s propulsive percussive presence on the bodhrán especially.

The expressive and characterful modulation of her instantly recognisable voice animates six love songs ranging from the melancholia of the Gaelic song Baba Chonraoi to the happy result of The Lover’s Token. Shanagolden, via the melody of The Twelfth Of Never, is perhaps a weaker spot but the compelling excellence of Handsome Polly-O and Snoring Biddy - stories invested with emotion, melody and rhythmic interest in harmonious balance – are certainly up there with their best.

The coupling of the haunting short air from the song Anach Cuain, beautifully capturing the tragic quality of its drowning outcome, with the brightly fine piece The Rolling Wave is one of several magical moments in the tune sets. Apparently the album was presented to the Russian delegation at the recent G8 summit in Fermanagh - not, I imagine, that the band will be interested in seeking to try to capitalise on any future Eurovision opportunities that might offer!

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.