Category: Archive

A tide-turning gleam

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The only lineup change in Liadan has been the departure of flutist and vocalist Sarah Jane Woods and the arrival of singer and flute and whistle player Catherine Clohessy. There’s no drop-off in talent as Clohessy joins founding members Elaine Cormican on vocals, flute, whistle, and mandolin, Claire Dolan on vocals and fiddle, Sile Denvir on vocals and harp, Deirdre Chawke on vocals and piano accordion, and Valerie Casey on vocals and fiddle. That’s right: all six members sing, helping to stamp Liadan as distinctive among active trad bands today.
“Turning the Tide,” their self-issued second album, displays even more polish and poise than their first. Elaine Cormican sings lead vocal, with harmony from her bandmates, on “Bimis ag Ol / Captain’s Hill / Oro Downey.” The bookend songs in Irish are examples of mouth music but with full lyrics, capturing Liadan’s flair for six-way harmony, while the middle jig, composed by Dolan, impressively combines harp, fiddle, flute, harp, accordion, and bodhran (from guest Brian Morrissey).
The “Limerick Polka Set” comprises “You Broke My Cup and Saucer,” Casey’s “The Caherline Chase,” and “Tarmon’s,” and packs plenty of bounce Sliabh Luachra-style. Liadan learned that last tune from “Traditional Irish Fiddling from County Limerick,” an underrated album made in 1978 by two exceptional Limerick musicians, fiddler Martin Mulvihill and guitarist Mick Moloney.
Other instrumental medleys from Liadan offer no less sizzle, sensitivity, or both. Denvir’s nimbly nuanced harp playing leads off Mairtin O’Connor’s hornpipe “The Leverette” that is followed by Denvir’s own jig, “The Queen of Connaught,” and John Brady’s “Dun-na-Si” jig. Those tunes swing, as do Casey’s reel “Bualadh an Chasuir” in a medley also including John Brady’s “The Road to Finter” and the traditional “The Eel in the Sink” and “The High Road to Glin.” And the slight lament treatment that Liadan gives to “The Clothier’s March” deepens the appeal of this lovely traditional melody.
The highlight medley, however, is the progressive impact created by the band on the jigs “The Mist-Covered Mountain” and John McEvoy’s “The Spotted Dog” leading slyly into the countermelody-girded Shetland reel “Da Lass Dat Made the Bed for Me.”
Three songs are in English: “The Angel’s Whisper” and Dolan’s “Bold Atlantic,” each featuring Casey as lead vocalist, and “Early in the Month of Spring,” sung by Cormican as lead. They all are expertly arranged and delivered.
The inspiring, unstoppable ascendancy of women in Irish traditional music has injected it with immeasurable vitality and virtuosity. Along with Cherish the Ladies and the teen-aged Girsa, Liadan has served notice that any lingering, hidebound attitudes regarding gender in Irish traditional music will be soundly dunked by the tidal pull of their sound. In more ways than one, this new album is aptly named by Liadan, a band of unsinkable strength and cresting reputation.
Visit www.liadan.ie for information on how to acquire “Turning the Tide” (cat. no. LN0002).

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