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PROVIDENCE "Providence" Rolling River ROLLRRCD001

Traditional music has many pleasures. Not the least of them is seeing young players' early promise fulfilled. Providence's new CD gives me that pleasure via their fiddler Méabh Ó Hare, whom I first heard amongst the pupils of West Belfast Traditional Music school years ago: here, surely, is promise fulfilled...

If the album featured only Méabh it would still he good- but of course it doesn't. Providence's line-up of three other instrumentalists and a singer represents a splendid array of talent, with the feel of people who enjoy being together. Guitar and bouzouki man Paul Doyle's beautifully understated backing of "Her Golden Long Hair Flowed Down Her Back" is an example. So is John Wynne's low whistle and Míchéal Ó Raghallaigh's box creeping into the song "Seven Gypsies". What a song, incidentally, and WHAT a rendering! Its origins are apparently unknown, but it's a cracker. The band's ability to work collectively is shown in the first reel, "The New Found Out", as they gradually boost the heat without losing shape or tempo.

The balance of material is good, half of it songs. Joan McDermott sails through these, although having some trouble with the long phrases of Cathair na Léige. (Also, why does she choose "The City of Baltimore"? Albeit well sung, this 'fighting Irish' ditty sits awkwardly beside pieces as classy as "Be Still As You Are Beautiful".)

Production values are fine except for "J.O. Forbes of Corse" (played by guest fiddler Liz Kane) being slightly marred by obtrusive finger-squeaks from the guitar strings - did nobody hear them? Yet, small niggles apart, this is a wonderful recording, hopefully the first of many.

Steve McGrail

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This album was reviewed in Issue 39 of The Living Tradition magazine.