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Mick, Louise, and Michelle Mulcahy "The Mulcahy Family" Shanachie 78039

When I first saw the insert picture on this, my heart dropped. Pipes, harp, and button box together? Not the best combination of instruments for my taste. I needn't have worried; the Mulcahys don't play them at the same time. They combine box, concertinas, and flute in various ways.

Mick Mulcahy's musical CV is faultless; he learned the box in North Kerry, did his improvership in London in the 60s with the likes of Bobbie Casey, Tommy McCarthy, and Roger Sherlock. There were many influences on his style but his favourite musician was the late Joe Cooley, and it shows. Mick has a lot of the older melodeon style of playing, much more attractive than the extruded style of some modern box players. His two daughters have been playing since childhood, which isn't very long as they were only 17 and 15 when this was recorded. Louise plays uilleann pipes and flute; Michelle plays harp, concertina, and accordion, and is also taking up the fiddle. Young ones like these two make me sick; with envy! I've heard great natural talent in many young musicians, but rarely such assurance. Like so many family groups (apart from the Gallaghers), there is a great rapport here.

There's a good mix of tunes; mostly reels, but none the worse for that. The family play seven instruments between them, with assistance from Cyril Donoghue and Zan McLeod, bouzoukis, Tommy Hayes, percussion, and Mick Moloney on tenor banjo. Louise's solo piping is crisp and measured, with echoes of Ennis.

Michelle's harp solos are delightful sets of jigs and reels. The flute tends to be rather overpowered on the ensemble tracks, but putting more treble through the amp sorted that. On some tracks Mick and Michelle play E flat box and concertina, which give a really bright tone. The whole thing has the great lift and drive that, as Joe Cooley said, "brings people you to their senses".

Sleeve notes are concise but comprehensive; tributes are paid to many other musicians. I honestly don't have a favourite track, nor is there even one I would skip. It's a pity the CD is only 43 minutes long; I could have done with a lot more, but you can always do what I've just done. Hit the repeat button. I'm looking forward to their next CD already.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.