ALTAN – The Poison Glen (Compass Records 4571)

There’s something reassuring about coming across a lyric or melody that you’re used to hearing even if it’s not in your native tongue. Such is the case with the track “Seolta Geala” and in as much as I’ve come to associate it with the gustily delivered shanty “Rio Grande” I stand to be corrected as I can’t confirm the lyrics having extensively trawled the net. I’ve often said before that even if I can’t understand a word of Gaelic it is how it’s presented that leaves me hot or cold depending on whose interpretation I’m listening to. When it’s in the more than capable hands of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and fellow band members Ciaran Curran, Ciaran Tourish, Daithi Sproule, Mark Kelly and Dermot Byrne I think you can safely assume everything is right with the world particularly after twenty-five years of the band performing together. Whether it’s the straight forward ‘no frills’ approach they take with their instrumental set-pieces including established favourites “A Fig For A Kiss” or the uncommonly slow arrangement of “The Wheels Of The World” this recording may possibly prove somewhat pedestrian for the general public (and even some ‘folk’ audiences) but personally I’ve come to enjoy the more laid-back approach in the twilight of my years…or is that a case of me being ageist? This recording may not perhaps be a rip-snorting blaze of pyrotechnics but if you’re looking for something deliciously Celtic to sit alongside your Ed Sheeran CD you’ll doubtless enjoy this release.


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