Live In Palma
Kells Music (www.kellsmusic.com)
Looking back over the 1990s, one name really comes to the fore in Irish music: Dervish, a group which traces its roots to school friendships, sessions and even indirectly to the tourist trade. Live In Palma represents a peak in the band's development as well as a historical document of the band's progress. This two CD set is a full 1997 concert recorded in Mallorca; no overdubs, just the band from start to finish in concert. It stands on its own as an audio experience without the need for visuals or the electricity of actually being there.
Cathy Jordan's vocals, at times cheeky, at times heartrending, have matured. She has evolved into one of the most expressive singers around, and not just in the world of Irish or folk music. Lead instrumental work is mainly handled by the musical triumvirate of Liam Kelly on flute, Shane McAleer on fiddle and Shane Mitchell on accordion. The three weave melodies in and around each other often at breakneck speed, but never so fast that a tune is lost in the haste. Yet, when the tempo slows, they still play with a richness so often lacking in many other musicians.
A distinctive element of Dervish's sound is the rhythm. The bouzouki and guitar of Michael Holmes and the mandola and guitar of Brian McDonagh appear to fuse into a solid, often rocking unit which holds the timing deftly. Whether playing on the beat, syncopating or even providing a polyrhythmic approach, the pair, especially when coupled with Jordan's steady bodhran, provide an accompaniment that is intriguing. Think of Dervish and think of fire. From the leaping flames of a set of Sligo reels to the smoldering heat of a song of lost love, this live album captures it all. - Jamie O'Brien