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NA DORSA "The Wild Music of the Gael" Owl Label CDOO1

When I picked this up I was less than enthusiastic, as I thought it was going to be yet another of those endless Irish compilations (the title suggesting this). BUT NO !!! This is the first CD from Na Dorsa - a six piece band comprising of friends who were still so after a couple of all night sessions in Galway. For my sins none of the names I recognised, all having an excellent pedigree though, and who make an excellent sound. From the first note you just know it is going to be good. Memories of the Bothy Band and Altan come flooding back, but that just proves this music is timeless, unlike so many other genres.

Na Dorsa's line up comprises of flute, accordion, pipes, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, viola and vocals. All the music is traditional but with excellent arrangements by the band. I particularly like the opening medley which starts with flute and pipes - ably backed by bouzouki, I think - before accordion and fiddle take over. This track really does show the wealth of what is to follow. The "Barn Dance" set proves how much fun can be had - I wish it could have been so when I was learning the dances.

Margaret Cunningham, who according to the press release supplied via the Internet, works extensively solo in America and Europe. Her version of "Heather on the Moor" was learnt from the singing of that wonderful Armagh singer Roisin White, and shows the warmth there is in Margaret's performance, sympathetic backing enhancing rather than distracting.

In no way is this CD overproduced, in fact Colum Sands' recording and mixing is excellent. There are the usual notes about where the music comes from, which I found informative and interesting. In fact the only things I was not happy about was the rather unclear CD cover, as it is hard to tell the band's name or title of the CD, and the photos are far too small.

As with all good quality music the sounds are layered to provide depth and variety. The mood of a session was aimed for and achieved - something many before have tried for but failed. If this CD is anything to go by Na Dorsa have got quite a future so get them booked for a festival near you. Personally I can't wait to see them live. "The Wild Music of the Gaels" by Na Dorsa comes highly recommended.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.