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LORETTO REID & BRIAN TAHENY "celtic mettle" Iona IRCD049

"celtic mettle" is released on the Iona label, under licence from Reta Ceol Productions, Ontario and is one of the many excellent recordings of Canadian based performers that Iona have introduced under the "the Canadians are coming", banner. Loretto Reid and husband Brian Taheny were born and bred in county Sligo but moved to Canada in 1988 and while their music has retained its Irish nature, blended in are some newer accents and customs.

Irish traditional and traditional styled music is the order of the day as well as some of Loretto Reid's finely detailed compositions. Also to be heard are Tracy Dares on piano, Andy Stochansky on drums, Pat O'Gorman on Highland Pipes and featured on many tracks, Johnny McDonagh who can beat more out of a frame drum with a stick than would seem possible. Loretto Reid and Brian Taheny's playing and instrumentation is impressive as well; featuring flute, whistle, concertina, guitar, fiddle, button accordion, banjo, bouzouki, dobro and, since Loretto also produced the album, mixing desk and recording studio. Indeed many of the tracks are "studio performances" and make various use of multi-tracking, electronic effects and programming. Some of the results include the mini epics, "Planxty Robinson" and "Fleur de Quebec" and the dance orientated, "That's Lovely ... That Is".

Don't overlook this album because of the "celtic" title or the dull cover. There is some rather fine playing among these seventeen tracks but most impressive are the new compositions of Loretto Reid. Between some of the more boisterous tracks are two of her slow airs. "Nois Mo Na Aisling", played as a solo guitar piece, marries the twang and drawl of the new world to the pained spirit of the old. Capturing more of that spirit and hurt is, "Prayer for the Children", an emotive tune which already sounds well worn and aged.

Peter Fairbairn

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