Receiving the latest Lunasa CD is like unwrapping the best Christmas present you could wish for. There’s something magical that brings a broad grin to your face and a warm feeling to the heart. Starting with “The New Day/Ryestraw/An Old Woman Would” the band know just how to push the right buttons drawing you in firstly with a stately march followed by a dazzling display of co-joined whistle acrobatics topped by Cillian Vallely’s uillean pipes and finally Paul Meehan’s bouzouki and Trevor Hutchinson’s (double bass) driving rhythm. Considering that there isn’t a vocal in sight this purely instrumental album (as have been all their previous recordings) is a sheer delight and littered with an Irish pub session players wealth of material. Harking back to the days of an ill spent youth in Kilburn and Balisodare Folk Festival witnessing the likes of an early Bothy Band and Clannad this group more than captures the essence of what I still hold as some of the most cherished performances of my life. Unlike say The Dubliners or Furey’s need for speed it is Lunasa’s (at times) gentle but authoritative deployment of subtle underlying currents that propel the melodies without overshadowing the lead instruments as in the case of Kevin Crawford’s flute and Sean Smyth’s fiddle on the track “Doc Holiday’s”. Here we have a master-class in understatement that is truly (as Christy Moore would have it) the iron behind the velvet.
Artist website: www.lunasa.ie