Whisky Trail - Pooka
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Whisky Trail
Forrest Hill Records (www.forresthillrecords.com)

A series of chords accompanied by percussion create a dark atmosphere until a picked guitar embellishes the sound preparing the way for pipes. So begins the first part of this exploration of places where the 'other folk' live. Pooka, leprechauns, fairies, witches, mermaids and more make up the subject matter of Pooka as Whisky Trail brings together 11 tracks divided into four sections.

The band revolves around four musicians. (Who is the extra fiddler in the photo, I wonder?) Lorenzo Greppi is the piper on the opening track. He plays both highland and uilleann pipes as well as whistles, dulcimer, accordion and bodhrán; he adds backing vocals, too. It's with the two Irish instruments, pipes and drum, that he is particularly outstanding. The pipes roll and flow within the melodies, accentuating the dance rhythms to perfection; his punctuating approach to percussion colorfully complements the playing of the rest of the band.

Stefano Corsi is a strong harper who also plays harmonium, guitar and mandolin and adds pedal bass and backing vocals. His duet with Greppi's pipes on Pooka is a wonder to hear. Giulia Lorimer sings lead and plays fiddle, psaltry and percussion. She has a beautiful, expressive voice (though I'm a little troubled and distracted occasionally by her accent).

The band bases its sound on the sensitive accompaniment of guitarist and bouzouki player and singer, Pietro Sabatini. His approach places the melody players and singers right at the front, always enhancing the tunes and moving the songs and tunes along at the right pace.

Pooka is an adventurous album that covers a lot of ground in a relatively short time with an overall ambiance suggests a concert setting, with fine performances, arrangements and a concept that suggest taking the time to sit down and listen quietly. - Jamie O'Brien

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