CIORRAS – Silver Lining (Wispy Cloud Records)

Ciorras were brought together by the legendary (in folk music circles at least) Donal Lunny for a TV series not dissimilar to the X-Factor. There of course the similarity ends as these are ‘real’ musicians and singers and if that sounds snobbish I’m quite happy to be counted as one. Youth is on their side…they’re all about twenty…and the recording shows with a zest for life that most of us seasoned veterans will have experienced at one time or another. Starting with an uplifting set of reels titled “The Expensive Sneeze” featuring a fiery duet between flute and fiddle accompanied by groovy guitar and bodhran shows that there’s still plenty of life left in ‘Irish’ music yet. The second track “Runaway” utilises a melody performed on the concertina structured in much the same way that Bill Whelan approached “Riverdance” with plenty of syncopated notes and snappy jazz piano stabs that makes the listener automatically want to sway with the giddiness of it all. But, before we get too complacent, the subtle change of major to minor introducing a more up-tempo “Farewell To Whalley Range” written by Manchester’s finest (Michael McGoldrick) will undoubtedly leave everyone breathless. Now, personally speaking I’m pleased the rest of the members of the band opted for Ciara Cunningham an English-speaking vocalist instead of any number of Gaelic speaking vocalists they could have chosen and biased as I am, it never did harm the careers of De Dannan (Dolores Keane and Mary Black) or Solas and in fact opened many more doors being a far more accessible language. A fine vocalist, Cunningham proves with the 1969 Richard Thompson penned “Farewell, Farewell” that she can really get under the skin of the lyrics and I’m sure pleased her mentor Paul Brady. Each member of this star-studded cast will undoubtedly become established in their own right but until then let’s celebrate a ‘group’ that is going places.

PETE FYFE

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