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The very reserved, but extremely appreciative, Glasgow audience gave Cherish the Ladies a rare standing ovation at the recent "Celtic Connections", speaking volumes about the quality of the music from these six American women. The great reception they received was all the more remarkable since a large percentage of the crowd had never heard of them before. As for the scrum I had to endure to pick-up this CD, I would rather have faced the All Blacks.

The CD starts with some energetic and well played reels including the" Flogging Reel" and "the Kerryman". The evident enthusiasm is not allowed to interfere with the musicianship which is superb.

"Spoon River", is the first of four songs, two in English, and two in gaelic. Cathy Ryan's delightful voice delivers this American Folk song with restraint and just the right amount of emotion, while the fiddle accompaniment is delicate and evocative of the Deep South.

Two instrumental sets follow. The jig set is of the quality we expect from todays top Folk bands. Again the sheer quality of the playing and arrangements comes through, with more than a hint of producer Johnny Cunningham's influence (no bad thing). The Waltz set starts with "Declan's Waltz", written by the groups accordion player Maureen Dohery Macken for her son, and he should be well chuffed, as it is a beautiful tune, as is the group penned "Waltz Duhamel" which follows.

Next up, is the first of the gaelic songs "Tha M'Intinn Raoir" which is given a gutsy treatment together with a strathspey and a couple of reels. Overall a neat arrangement and one to get the feet tapping. In complete contrast is the beautiful slow air "Inisheer" which illustrates that the group can also play sensitive slower material.

The second gaelic song is "Roisin Dubh" - a lament for a lost love, which Cathy Ryan sings unaccompanied. Occasionally the gaelic comes over as phonetically learned although the quality of Cathy's voice easily overcomes this.Perhaps the strongest song on the CD is "The Missing Piece", composed by Cathy about all who call America and Ireland home. It's as good an emigration song as you'll hear, and has a refreshingly candid ending.

To round off the CD the group are again in a boisterous mood with the "Out and About" set which quite simply confirms the quality of musicianship.

I am quite sure that if this recording had been made by one of the Irish "Supergroups" it would be raved about. As it is, I for one will rave about it, and urge the rest of you to seek it out. If you get the chance to catch them live, then do so - it is worth it for the sheer quality of the music, with the bonus of some cracking Irish Step dancing.

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 4 of The Living Tradition magazine.