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BRIAN O'HEADHRA & AIMIEE LEONARD "Saorise" Anam Records CACD002

It is always a pleasure to hear new singer/musicians especially when they are talented and have high musical standards. Brian o'hEadrha and Aimiee Leonard are among a very welcome "new wave" of young people who have taken an interest in traditional music, combining the influence of the past revivals with sophisticated musical techniques and styles. The CD under review has a mixture of seven traditional songs and five compositions by Brian o'hEadhra.

Aimiee Leonard has a beautiful voice, she sings with confidence, clear diction and a warmth that tells me she takes pleasure from singing, this combination makes her a joy to hear. She ably complemented by Brian whose own vocals are tuneful, confident and pleasing.

The instrumental arrangements support and harmonies with the vocals keeping the attention of the listener on all tracks and appealing to the widest of audience tastes. There are eight guest musicians who have been used carefully and sparingly, there is never the feeling that the musicians are carrying the songs, on the contrary, the duo are the core of each performance. I feel that if one were to see the duo in a club or concert setting, the standard would be maintained with little or no loss by the absence of the "guests".

The instruments are used effectively, I particularly liked the use of the harmonica on "Leaboys Lassie" and "Forever Free" and the oboe on "Rosemary Lane" and "After the Storm". The traditional songs are well known and are likely to be included in the repertoire of most singers throughout the British Isles, and as such this CD is unlikely to be picked up by the series "folkie", but will appeal to a general audience who may be unfamiliar with the songs.

The self penned songs, mostly from the pen of Brian o'hEadhra are not outstanding, though I did enjoy "After the Storm" and "Forever Free" which might be picked up by other bands and singers. My comments should not discourage Brian, for I do see plenty of potential, but it does take time to develop pointed appealing songs, and hopefully by the time the next CD is reviewed it will be Brian's compositions that draw the attention.

To sum up I feel that this CD may not have wide appeal within the folk music circles, but as a representative of folk music to a more general audience, it will be welcomed, listened to and enjoyed - as did this reviewer.

Nick Caffrey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.