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SLIABH NOTES "Along Blackwater's Banks" Ossian OSSCD130

Puns are not everybody's cup of tea, but I like them! That's one of the reasons I've always appreciated this band's name, as they feature the music of the Sliabh Luachra area of Ireland. The other, and more important reason is that they play so well. Indeed, I recall wandering into a traditional music shop in Galway a few years ago and being so impressed by the CD that they were playing that I bought it at once - and had no regrets at all, as you sometimes do with impulse purchases. That CD was by Sliabh Notes and I've been impressed by all of their output to date. And I still am, as this is a very worthy successor indeed.

The group is made up of Matt Cranitch, fiddles; Donal Murphy, accordion; and Tommy O'Sullivan, guitar, high-strung guitar and vocals. On this outing, they have guest support from Kevin Burke, fiddle; Steve Cooney, guitar; Matt Molloy, flute; Brian McGrath, keyboards and piano; Colm Murphy, bodhran; and Liam O Maonlai, piano. Well, if you've got pals like that who can help out, why not use them?

Given this line-up, the quality of content and presentation was never going to be in doubt, and we have indeed a rip-roaring selection of the polkas and slides for which Sliabh Luachra is noted. The opening polka set Paddy Scanlan's / Mrs. Mulvihill's / The Kinnard and the closing one The Blackwater / Kathleen's / Micheal's nicely sandwich what fits in between. What does fit includes robust reels, jaunty jigs and hearty hornpipes. But - easy on the alliteration - there are also sensitive songs. Tommy's pitch and timbre are ideally suited to the three we have here - The Grey Funnel Line, The Star Of Logy Bay and Sweet Kingwilliamstown. This last is said to have been written by Danny Buckley, who survived the sinking of the Titanic, only to be fatally shot during the last hour of the First World War.

This is an excellent production, and one which can only enhance the group's reputation further.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 48 of The Living Tradition magazine.