The reasons are many: She achieves the rarity of bringing classical discipline to strong traditional bowing, has an uncanny talent for countermelodies, harmonies, and interludes, and puts a premium on melody. “In arranging, it’s always important for melody to win . . . to stand alone and feel complete,” insists Horan, a former member of Cherish the Ladies and the Sharon Shannon Band.
Intriguing, tasty melodies — 14 of the album’s 16 tunes are hers — abound on Win Horan’s long-awaited solo debut, “Just One Wish” (Shanachie 78051). Those exquisite slow airs she’s done as solo turns on Solas recordings — “La Bruxa,” “Crested Hens,” “A Little Child,” “Maybe in a Prayer” — make the beauty of the title track all the more stunning. There’s a touch of Itzhak Perlman’s immaculate intonation and expressive vibrato in Horan’s playing of “Just One Wish,” her own air, where control and emotion blend rather than bump heads.
But don’t worry: this isn’t an album intended for longhairs. It percolates with the life and liveliness of the finest traditional fiddling.
You can almost visualize the rosin billowing up from Horan’s bowing on such high-charged medleys of reels as “Sean at the Wheel/Life on the Road” and “Life Ain’t So Bad/Mary & Julia’s Reel.” She also shows her ability to moderate tempo on the jigs “The Sparkling Fairy/Taro’s Blue Eye,” a gliding arrangement that opens provocatively with bass and is threaded with a delicately programmed sound akin to a vibraphone.
A proud Parisian boulevardier tradition seeps through “A Kiss by Messenger,” Horan’s sprightly, lightly swinging waltz that would feel perfectly at home in the hands of accordionist Guy Viseur, whose bal musette recordings in the 1930s remain a benchmark for valse playing.
For years, fans of Solas have harbored just one wish: that Winifred Horan release a solo album. Now that wish is fulfilled. Backed by multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan, button accordionist Mick McAuley, guitarist D