This is neither self-indulgence nor ego in flight. For the most part, the melodies she wrote are as well-defined as the three traditional tunes she covered, meeting the test of taste. A former All-Ireland senior fiddle champion and a National Heritage Fellowship recipient, Carroll composes tunes often inspired by family, friends, mentors, events, and places near and dear to her in Chicago.
One of the most beautiful Carroll compositions on the new album is “A Day and an Age,” a slow air acknowledging, she says, “the singers who transport immigrants back home.” The ache of being homesick is almost palpable in her bowing, elegant and elegiac, with spare, note-perfect accompaniment from John Doyle on acoustic guitar and Michael Aharon on piano and cello.
Another air Carroll wrote, “The Ghost,” was for Marina Carr’s play “Bythe Bog of Cats.” This tune stands on its own not as theatrical incidental music but as a carefully crafted piece bolstered by two fiddling Liz’s, Carroll and Knowles. It is a delicate arrangement of interweaving strings from Knowles, a former member of the John Whelan Band and Cherish the Ladies.
The majority of music on the new album is at dance tempo. “Anlon McKinney/Mind the Dresser,” two slides written by Carroll, are propelled by the kinetic button accordion playing of Galway’s M