Danu
Think Before You Think
Shanachie (www.shanachie.com)

You can meet tradition in two ways: you can preserve it, or you can extend it. The boys of Danu compose much of their material; when played beside traditional reels, you can't tell the difference. Guitar is a constant presence, and they rarely play all at once; instruments always change, and with them the mood. Jesse Smith bows weary from a taut fiddle, and behind him are many tastes: sour throaty flute, punchy accordion, and persistent strums. This is not tired, this is not predictable, this is not polite repertory music. Instead it's the excitement of youth, a fervor that turns many kids to rock. It led these guys to tradition and what they could do with it.

The group shows absolute teamwork; if anyone stands out it's Tom Doorley on the flute, or vocalist Ciaran O Gealbharn. Gently he tells of "Green Brooms," his voice, unaffected, brings the story with charm. You believe every word, especially on "Tender Ladies," where the voice stings even as the strings caress. He sounds good in any language; "Eochaill" is wonderfully warm.

When Ciaran steps down, the band turns stronger. "Rainey's Jig" is a contest of power. Smith starts it fast, the bodhran boils, and McCarthy lets the keys fly. He's high and sweet, like a concertina; from there Doorley trills.

The emotions are stirred while your ears find new pleasures in the mix. Delight is here, sadness there and strength all over the place. If you seek beauty, it's here; don't give it a second thought. - John Barrett

Buy it at cdroots.com

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