KARAN CASEY & JOHN DOYLE – Exiles Return (Compass Records 7 4529 2)

The beaming smile of a reviewer as he casts his eye over certain members of ‘folk’ royalty appearing in his ‘in’ tray is always reason enough to celebrate a new CD release. Therefore, one can assume this is the case with Karan Casey & John Doyle. As the duo, both ex-members of the American/Celtic super-group Solas, I suppose it isn’t surprising that expectations should be high. From the opening strains of Doyle’s palm dampened funky rhythm guitar chops to the towering vocals of Casey joined by Michael McGoldrick’s trademark flute you can feel the creative juices positively flowing from every pore. Unlike many singers who just read the written word, Karan takes the experience of what appears on paper and is able to convey the message contained in the song with a genuine passion. In return, as if joined by the hip Doyle instinctively knows what Casey is thinking and this is proved time and again in arrangements that seamlessly unleash their treasures for the delight of a discerning public. It is also obvious that both artists have a profound respect for their choice of material including “The False Lady”, “The Little Drummer Girl” and “Out Of The Window” (a variant of “She Moved Through The Fair”) adding a more contemporary groove that will appeal to more modern tastes. In providing sparse but well placed production values, Dirk Powell establishes an authoritative, well refined album that will not only find favour with the ‘folk’ scene but also to anyone who enjoys their music as an ‘art’ form. Finally my one reservation (and it is a minor one) please can graphic designers note that a little thought should be taken with the booklet which for us fifty something’s when it comes to reading a miniscule font size should be in bold black text on a white background. Anything is preferable than having to squint at indecipherable wording. Apart from that this recording gets a resounding 10 out of 10.

PETE FYFE

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