THE O’CAROLAN FAMILY – A Language Within (Self Released)

ocarolansLet me say from the outset, I’m more of a song than an instrumental man and instrumental trad folk isn’t at the top of list of genre passions, indeed I tend to find most instrumental albums never quite manage to capture the feel of the same music being played live, too often that energy being replaced by studio sterility and a sense of proficiency rather than passion.

However, I surrender on all fronts to the young Derry trio, siblings Karen, Ciaran  and Steven on fiddle, flute/whistles and button accordion, respectively. Recorded in the Donegal cottage featured on the album cover, it’s a sprightly collection of reels, jigs, barn dances, ballads and even a waltz and polka that bears testament to early years absorbing Irish traditional music and learning their craft under the tutelage of names like Eugene O’Donnell and the Harrigan family, to mention time spent listening to the music of artists from their home region such as Altan, De Danann and The Bothy Band.

Not being a musician myself, I’m not going to get into technicalities of technique, but I can say that the three interweave seamlessly, the instruments playing off each other without any hogging the spotlight and capturing their very obvious love of the music and heritage of their raising.

Helped out by a dozen guest musicians variously contributing guitars, piano, harp, bouzouki, cello and bodhran, save for ‘Around The Fairy Fort/The New Broom’, a  barn dance set  from the  repertoire of flautist Vincent Broderick, the numbers are all either self-penned (Steven the prime writer) or (as with Bunker Hill, part of the opening reels)  trad arranged by the family.

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