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DERVISH - "At the End of the Day" - Whirling Discs WHRL003

This is the third album by Dervish in their current established line-up. Their first album inevitably invited comparisons with other established groups, the quality was obvious but it would take a brave reviewer to allocate their place in the league table of bands on the basis of one album.

If proof were needed that Dervish have a place in the "Irish Hall of Fame", this album provides it. It is a very significant album. What sets it apart are the songs, seven of them out of fourteen tracks. The tunes dominated by reels and jigs move along with Dervish pace but the songs, skillfully accompanied provide a perfect counter to the driving tune sets bringing out the strengths in both. I have heard Cathy's voice described as a "dancing voice" and both the voice and the accompaniments, even on the slower songs have a great vitality about them.

The choice of songs is interesting, they will be either new to most listeners or at least different versions. I suspect that a lot of work has gone into their selection and it has paid dividends. Immediate favourites for me were the song version of the tune "For Ireland I Won't Tell Her Name", a magnificent track and "I Courted A Wee Girl" a fresh sounding variant of "I Once Loved A Lass".

Dervish are a formidable band live, they generally have two main gears for their tunes sets - top gear and overdrive with the turbo at full boost. Plenty of people can play fast, Dervish have the skill to move the pace along without losing any of the subtleties of the tunes. This type of energy is often difficult to capture on a recording - this album does the band justice.

The album is brought to a close by, surprise, surprise, a slow tune "Josefin's Waltz" where Dervish are joined by Swedish group Vasen. I say brought to a close but not quite, for Cathy returns after a suitable pause for an encore, an unaccompanied version of a song in tribute to her father, I wonder who will collect the royalties for track 14. You will need to listen to the album to appreciate this question.

At a time when honest, straight-forward-no-gimmicks, recordings concentrating on traditional music and songs and becoming rarer, it is a pleasure to have such a well balanced album of tunes played with passion and skill and songs with vitality and taste. Such a combination is rare indeed. This album has classic written all over it.

Pete Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 18 of The Living Tradition magazine.