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DERVISH "Playing with Fire" Whrl 002

I don't know why Dervish decided to call their second CD "Playing with fire", but I suspect it's because when this lot really get going their instruments must just about ignite from the sheer passion the playing. Enjoyment radiates from this CD and if you can keep your feet from jigging along to the music, you must seriously consider the prospect that you are dead! Reels and jigs which have become the stable diet of the Irish folk scene become, in the hands of Dervish, feasts on which to gorge, with each sitting bringing new pleasures as another nugget reveals itself. Then there is the distinctive and delightful singing of Cathy Jordon which matches in every sense the instrumentals.

First though the tunes. Dervish have very few peers in the arranging and playing of traditional sets. Using an all acoustic instrument lineup the band are masters at "controlled enthusiasm" with the instrumental tracks having a wild and a bonded "feel" yet each player knows his place, and the arrangements move the emphasis between the instruments to keep your interest at a maxim. Liam Kelly's flute takes the dominant role in many of the sets and does so with an assured manner and a deft touch. Shane McAleer on fiddle alternates between support for Liam and taking outright charge of proceedings, while Shane Mitchel on accordian adds body to the sets. Cathy Jordon may have a voice angels would kill for, but she can also belt out a thunderous beat on the bodhran, and she does. Bouzouki from Micheal Holmes and Mandolin from Brian McDonagh complete the sound and the result is a veritable "session" in your living room. Lots of bands these days can "wip up a storm" few do it as well as Dervish.

Now to the singing. Cathy has clearly made a pact with the devil in which she was granted this devine voice while promising her soul to him forever (perhaps that is where the title comes in). Her voice floats over the backing instruments and possesses you to such an extent that you can actually believe a guy tried chatting a girl up with the line "Are you Aurora, or the goddess Flora" I'll not bother trying that one the next time I am at a "Club to far". Mind you to gain favour with one with such a sweet voice I'd try anything. Cathy sings "Calin Rua" with such conviction you can picture the bizarre scene easily. As with all the songs the arrangements backing up Cathy's singing are first class with Micheal and Brian taking much of the credit for restrained and appropriate fretwork. "Peigin Mo Chroi" gives Cathy the chance to air the top end of her vocal ability and it is one of the highlights of the album (although you could really perm any two from thirteen to get the highlights). "Willie Lennox" is given a suitably respectful treatment as befits the tale of a young man drowning but the band resist the temptation to give it the full dirge treatment. "Molly and Johnny" and "Maire Mor" are the other two songs on the album and Cathy and the band make as fine a job of these as they did the others.

Delicious vocals, clever arrangements, cracking playing and an all round sense of enjoyment make this a gem of an album which anyone with blood in their veins will enjoy.

Very highly recommended.

Chris Mackenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.