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CRAOBH RUA - "Soh It Is" - KRL CDLDL1259

This is the fourth album from Craobh Rua (the third with Lochshore) and follows the theme of a pun in the song title - this time there is a visual pun as well!

The boys just keep getting better and with this release the maturity of the playing shows through. Opening with a lively set of reels the standard is set for the rest of the album. Craobh Rua play with a tightness that some other bands only aspire to.

Jim Byrne's songs are well chosen and his voice is strong, yet well controlled in the slower ballads, as in one of the audience favourites "Ye Lovers All". The musical arrangements throughout are well thought out and beautifully played.

In the tunes Mark Donnelly's pipes and whistles gel with the fiddle of Michael Cassidy, with Brian Connolly's sympathetic banjo playing and Jim Byrne's guitar and mandola powering along.

Guests, used to good effect, are Ayrshire-based Tom Smith on mandolin and vocals, and bass player Tom Wetmore.

Craobh Rua are deservedly building a large following in the States - this album is very representative of their live set which shows why.

John Weatherby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 22 of The Living Tradition magazine.