The congeniality of traditional Celtic music to modern popular forms is both obvious and obscure, perceptible and paradoxical. While Celtic styles and even instrumentation have contributed so much to modern, mainstream music that their familiarity is unremarkable, the music's often formulaic structure reeks of self-imposed constraint and inherited tradition, the bane of contemporary cool. The instrumental recordings of Scottish accordionist Sandy Brechin embody this tension, with the emphasis on tradition, while those of the combo Bùrach, with which he also plays, tilt the balance toward pop, while posing a separate stylistic paradox.
Bùrach's third release, Deeper, encompasses many of the same musical tensions found on Brechin's solo work, but adds another aspect, well evoked by the title of the band's second recording, Born Tired. The band's characteristic sound counterposes a laid-back mood, exemplified by Ali Cherry's whispery, reedy, vocal, a wonder of understatement, with the incipient Celtic vehemence of Brechin's accordion and Greg Borland's fiddle. This formula works as well on slow tunes such as "Beautiful Blues," a somber waltz, Cherry's vocal almost mesmeric, both fiddle and accordion weaving dreams around her vocal line, as on quick ones, including "Keep on Shining," in which a furious accordion/fiddle riff and driving beat are reigned in by Cherry's calm voice.
Both of these are tense recordings, disparate musical elements in fragile balance, paradoxes whose resolution is a large part of their appeal. - Jim Foley
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