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LUNASA "Lunasa" LSA001

Take three of the most adventurous of younger Irish traditional musicians, add two of the best accompanists in the business, record eleven tracks of live and studio material (one for each month of the year, oddly enough!), and if you're lucky you'll get something which is almost as good as Lunasa's debut album. I say almost as good, because you're unlikely to find three musicians who gel as well as fiddler Sean Smyth, piper John MacSherry and fluter Mike McGoldrick, and you're very unlikely to capture the same freshness and energy as there is on this CD. The only thing which might improve on this recording is a live performance (see LT28).

From the first notes of "Lord Mayo", it's clear that Lunasa are something special. The range of tempos and traditions on track 1 (march, Breton gavotte, reel) sets the scene for an exceptional 46 minutes: a medium-paced "Brenda Stubbert's Reel" gliding into the most original version of "Thunderhead" since Hamish Moore's, Pierre Bensusan's atmospheric "Last Pint" on three whistles, a fabulous set of three reels starting with one by ace Quebecois fiddler and foot-tapper Michel Bordeleau, a Klezmer Frailach which could have been written for the pipes, some dazzling straight Irish trad, and another Breton/Irish set including McGoldrick's catchy "Baby Rory" and the marvellous "Dub Reel" ... Lunasa are irrepressible.

This is another "must have", I'm afraid. It's going to be an expensive year!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 31 of The Living Tradition magazine.