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EILEEN IVERS "Traditional Irish Music"Green Linnet GLCD 1139

Everybody loves the triumphant return of an exile, especially a second-generation exile, and Eileen Ivers' recent appearance on the Late Late Show certainly endeared her to Gay Byrne's audience. She has a nice easy attack which tends to stay around moderato, and, while her overall style is recognisably Irish, there's a definite North American swing to be heard in the music much of the time. Indeed, this whole record is very catholic, including Scottish, Nova Scotian and Shetland tunes, some contemporary compositions, and the odd novelty number (she is, after all, from New York).

The novelty number is a must for all collectors of versions of Pachelbel's Canon, as which it begins, passing through a rather eldritch phase as a Transylvanian string quartet before cantering to the finishing post as an amiable hornpipe. It's unrepresentative of the record, which is mostly dance music played in agreeably traditional style, though with carefully crafted arrangements (there are some 20 featured musicians) and a fine crisp production quality. No great regional peculiarities are to be heard, the style being mainly a blend of Munster (with tips of the hat to Padraig O' Caoimh and Eileen's mentor, Martin Mulvihill) and Sligo (via Kevin Burke and directly from Coleman).

The arrangements on the dance tunes owe much to the Boys of the Lough, as might be expected from the provenance of the material, and also to the Bothy Band; while the influence of Moving Hearts is also around, particularly on Gerard Fahy's slow air Magh Seola, featuring as it does soprano sax and low whistle. The rendering of Caoine Uí Dhomhnaill, on the other hand, is a bit of an unaccompanied tour de force, reminiscent of Sean Keane's slow air playing at its best.

Eileen's at her best, though, in her closing medley, a set of tunes learned from Martin Mulvihill, in which all those years of Comhaltas can be seen to have paid off, and the listener is left in no doubt that it wasn't from the wind that she got it. Eileen Ivers and friends have here created a record which manages the engaging feat of being exuberant without resorting to excessive speed or noise, as many lesser artistes have been tempted to do.

Christy MacHale

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This album was reviewed in Issue 7 of The Living Tradition magazine.