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SOLAS "The Hour Before Dawn" SHANACHIE SH 78041

Some claim Solas to be the premier, most exciting Irish/Celtic band of today. With so many fine bands around this is a large claim to make. They are indeed a very talented group. If the individual members have not won All-Ireland championships, (Seamus Egan has won four, flute, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo), they have played with a veritable who's who of Irish music. Solas are not only very talented they are also very prolific. "The Hour Before Dawn" is their fourth album for Shanachie in five years. On "The Hour Before Dawn", Deirdrie Scanlan, another All Ireland champion, replaces Karan Casey as the groups lead female vocalist with, I think, no detriment to the band.

The material is the now familiar mix of vocals and instrumentals, some traditional some not. With musicians and singers of the calibre that Solas can boast everything is immaculately performed. I did find their version of 'A Miners Life' and some of the percussion a little out of context at first but now I can find no fault with this CD. It is well produced, with good informative notes and just under one hour of very fine music. Maybe it's a fair claim after all?

"The Hour Before Dawn" is an enhanced CD "spotlighting video footage of the band" if you don't have the right equipment for this, just enjoy the music. Recommended.

Danny Saunders

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.