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LAOISE KELLY "Just Harp" LK001

Apart from being a brilliant musician, Laoise Kelly has perfect eyesight; or so I surmised as I tracked my reading glasses to earth in the pocket of my fishing jerkin - normally only needed for tying on very small flies in dim light - in order to read the notes on the CD sleeve; faint, tiny cursive script over a patterned background is not the best way to convey information. But that complaint aside, this is a grand album and the notes are worth the trouble.

Laoise is 25, with an impressive CV; briefly, she has played just about everywhere with anyone who counts; Sharon Shannon, Kate Bush, Michael O Sulleabhain - with Donal Lunny to write the sleeve notes of her first album. Most recently she has been playing with the all-female Bumblebees, who have been causing quite a stir in the Irish scene.

This solo showcases a breadth of styles and moods, which is nevertheless wholly, Irish traditional, although the sources vary from American Irish to Bill Whelan's "Seville Suite" to Laoise's own compositions. The subtlety and emotional maturity of the playing mark out the experience packed into those 25 years; the exuberance is pure teenager! Turn the stereo up loud and listen to the tapping foot behind the syncopated hornpipes; keep it up loud for the slow airs and appreciate "the sharp point of attack of each note, the soft rounded tone that follows" - Donal Lunny is better fitted to describe the technical excellence; personally, I just look forward to seeing Laoise play live. Until then, this CD will join the small but select collection of purely instrumental collections that I never get tired of playing.

Corinne Male

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.