More reviews from European and American magazines

 

Dirty Linen (USA), March/April 2009

Here’s a dream quartet: pair Irish guitar and fiddle duo Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey with English guitarist and Celtic harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh, and you have some of the sweetest and most exciting music to emerge from the British Isles in a long time. Matching virtuosity with sheer good taste, this album of traditional and original music pours joyfully from the speakers. The quartet shows an amazing empathy between members, as demonstrated by the opening Newman composition, “Wild Goose Chase”, on which Casey’s free-flowing fiddle and Ní Chathasaigh’s crystalline harp dance delightfully with McGlynn’s fluid guitar lines and Newman’s steady rhythm on acoustic guitar and fretless bass. There is some nice old-time picking-and-grinning, as on “Tom Cronin’s Homework”, as well as quiet moments of majestic beauty in “Song of the Harp”. As one would expect, there are also some fiery jigs and reels. Surprises include the good-natured, guitar-centred cover of Merle Travis’ “Saturday Night Shuffle” and a fiddle-and-mandolin take on Bill Monroe’s classic bluegrass tunes, “The Yellow Barber / Gold Rush”.

Though the album is primarily instrumental, Casey sings on two lovely traditional songs, “Among the Heather” and “A Mháire Bhán Óg” (“Fair Young Mary”). Casey also contributed the jaunty reel “The Shooting Star”, and McGlynn the delicate, neo-classical “Reminiscing”. There is a great Newman-arranged set of tunes called “El Vals Argentino” in which he sounds for all the world like a South American Django Reinhardt. The quartet concludes the festivities with an amazing set of reels, which surely must be the highlight of their live shows. There are few albums that demand replay immediately after conclusion; this CD is one of them.”

- Lahri Bond

 
Le Canard Folk March 2009
 
Sing Out March 2009
 
New Folk Sounds April/May 2009
 

Here's a live review of the Celtic Connection concert in January from a Spanish magazine:

Músicas del Mundo, January 2009

La ganadora del premio Danny Kyle el año pasado en Celtic Connections, Bethan Nia abrió el show en la Strathclyde suite, GRCH. Habiéndose presentado ya en Glastonbury, Lorient y otros escenarios, traspasando las fronteras de su Gales natal, a través de su voz y arpa celta, cantando en inglés y galés, le costó ganarse al público de la sala. De hecho hay quien se levantó del asiento -en primera fila- antes del final. Tras el “incidente”, la artista indicó que sólo quedaban 2 temas. El último fue una canción sin música, que probablemente fue la que más gustó, al menos a mí.

De nuevo el concierto principal, que vino a continuación, fue el que conquistó al respetable. Letal (en el buen sentido) la combinación de los dúos formados por el genial guitarrista Arty McGlynn y la cantante/violinista Nollaig Casey (Cork, Irlanda) y la hermana de Nollaig, Máire Ni Chathasaigh (arpa y voz) junto a su pareja a la guitarra Chris Newman. Realmente

incendiarios (juntos y por separado). Disfrutamos de las voces e instrumentos de las chicas, de los dos dúos por separado, de los guitarristas por separado, y todas las versiones resultaron increíblemente atractivas.

Se presentaron todos los temas exhaustivamente y hasta el serio Arty contó la historia de uno de los “set of tunes”, con mucho detalle y para deleite del público, que rió divertido. En realidad, en Irlanda existe un concurso de “contar historias”, muy popular, en el que probablemente nuestro Arty ganaría. Incluyo, como curiosidad, el “set list” de la noche, que Chris fue tan amable de darme. Hora y media larga de excelente melodías, entre las que no podía faltar mi favorita “Tune for a found harmonium”. Máire anunció que recientemente han grabado un disco (largamente planeado) “Heartstring Sessions”, el mismo que presentaban esta noche.

 

Review of a concert at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

****The Glasgow Herald, 13/10/2008

The unwieldy billing of this concert may in time give way to Heartstring Sessions, the name of the album that sisters Nollaig Casey and Maire Ni Chathasaigh and their partners have just released to show what can happen when two duos pool musical resources.

Loadsastrings might even suffice, since as well as Casey's fiddle and Ni Chathasaigh's harp, there are two guitars and a mandolin involved in producing a repertoire that has its heart in Ireland but goes down through America's old time, bluegrass and country picking traditions to an Argentinean waltz designed for dancers, presumably, who don't like to hang around with the same dance partner for too long.

There is tremendous breadth and depth of experience involved here - from classical orchestral work to Donal Lunny's grooving folk-rock band in Casey's case - and it shows through in consummate playing, brilliantly articulated jigs, reels, hornpipes and Galician dance tunes, and the marvellous combination of Newman's burning-fingers urgency and McGlynn's poker-faced, apparently effortless high-tempo melody playing and steady, lush- toned rhythm guitar work.

Newman, their most natural public speaker, also contributed entertaining introductory tales, including an insight into how the oral tradition worked in his home town, Watford, resulting in versions of tunes that, however impressive, were as accurate as Chinese whispers.

A song in either set from Casey, one in English, the other in Gaelic, added extra variety, although there's probably enough contrasts in their various quartet and duo instrumentals to satisfy most ears, from Ni Chathasaigh's starkly keening harp lament for Limerick and McGlynn's stately, almost regency- period Reminiscing, to the foursome's breathtaking dash through bluegrass godfather Bill Monroe's Goldrush. - ROB ADAMS


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