Various Artists
Come Dance With Me In Ireland

The idea is simple. In the last century musicians would traipse the island, stopping at crossroads to play for those nearby. Some of that is heard here: solo flutes or fiddles, kicking up dust with lively strains. Take Vincent Campbell: he bows with a satisfying grit, etching a rough-hewn gem. "The Shelf" leaps with a jaunty accordion, then two; they do their own dancing. A flute hums low for a brace of jigs; the player's pauses for breath are a charm. "O'Mahony's Hornpipe" is two fiddles posing as one, a thick sound and very pleasing. If you like strong, there's Robbie Hannan: his pipes are sinuous, twisting the melody through a thick drone. The other pipes chord at times; Robbie is a group by himself.

The ensembles seem more polished, less emotional, though not without their charm. The boys of CRAN composed their own jig, and each weaves their way in facile strength. Bakerswell is different: the violin stands out, all else being scenery, and lovely to behold. (Listen to the harp, bubbling in the distance.) The Murray brothers sail through some hornpipes, fiddle and squeezebox in interlocked steps. The chords are sad but the tune is hopeful. The disc is full of bittersweet beauty, the wistful regret so distinctive in Irish music. Hear these choice cuts from thirty years of Claddagh Records, and feel the power of a lasting tradition. You'll be at the crossroads in no time. - John Barrett

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