DÀIMH - Crossing Point

DÀIMH - Crossing Point
Greentrax CDTRAX316

A very welcome third album from one of the most exhilarating acoustic bands on the Celtic map, Crossing Point is a little longer than Dàimh's last album and marks their move to a major label.  The band is now a six-piece with the addition of a singer, and can afford a few guests in the studio: whether these are plus or minus points is debatable.

Either way, with asses scarce along the Celtic rim, Dàimh kicks serious sheep from the off.  Ross Martin's guitar eases into the strathspey Domhnaill Mor, joined by Angus MacKenzie's pipes, then Gabe McVarish jumps in on the third part with that driving Stateside fiddle.  A pair of reels follow, and by the time James Bremner's bodhran gets going the lads are sucking deisel.  Allan MacDonald's tasty Buntat 's Sgadan crowns a cracking opener.  Total change into the classic Gaelic song Mo Nighean Chruinn Donn, the first of four from freshman Calum Alex MacMillan, which leaven the instrumental brew without really integrating.  Colm O'Rua's banjo leads track 3, starting with his own jig Trip to Glenfinnan and shifting to reels with Ann MacKechnie composed by Iain MacDonald.  Iain, brother of Allan, produced Crossing Point and adds a touch of Battlefield (and flute) to the Dàimh sound.  The final reel in this set was also Iain's idea, The Four Courts, an Irish modal monster twisted round the Scottish pipes with Dàimh's trademark genius.

Anxo's is a clear highlight, one of the nicest renditions I've heard of these well-known muñeiras by two Galician guests, skipping a beat as the twin pipes launch into The Boys of Ballymote with energy to rival Wolfstone.  Turbo Shandy is another goodie for fans of the Cape Breton style, named after Ross Martin's composition and ending in the reel Michael Rankin by the late John Morris.  Missing the slower stuff?  Try Sealg a's Sugradh, a gentle Gaelic air on fiddle and low whistle, a lovely duet in the Bain/Cunningham genre.  Dàimh delight in fitting tricky Irish tunes onto the poor wee Scottish war pipes. Murdo's is a fine example, with a bit of help from Gordon Duncan, and Polkas provide a punchy finale.

With the songs and guests, I'd say about half of Crossing Point is the old Dàimh sound, and it's a great half.  The rest is nice, and the next album will tell how well it mixes in.  In the meantime, there's plenty of good stuff to listen to here and it should be widely available.

Alex Monaghan
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The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 76 of The Living Tradition magazine.