Solas - For Love and Laughter
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For Love and Laughter
Compass Records (

Solas is a couple of years and change into their second decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Personnel changes have not sapped the band's solid, reliable sound. On this new one they sweep into the first three tracks like a breeze through the trees before allowing a breather for an Irish-language chamber-folk ballad.

They collaborate with the Duhks on several tracks and the hands-across-the-water thing works well. The Antje Duvekot-penned "Merry Go Round" is a sunny, Indigo Girls-ready shiny penny of a song. Mairéad Phelan and Sarah Dugas sound like long lost sisters harmonizing at a family reunion. (Positive vibes are great, but as sheer songwriting genius Duvekot will never top "Black Annis," recorded by Solas on 2002's The Edge of Silence.) The two bands rip into the reel medley "Vital Mental Medicine/The Pullet" like a tornado through a trailer park.

The band puts a warm sheen on Rickie Lee Jones' "Sailor Song" and dust off the Dillards' classic "There is a Time," giving it a chugging thrust that makes it sound like it could have been written yesterday or two hundred years ago. But the most beautiful track here is the end of the disc sleeper, fiddler Winifred Horan's lovely "My Dream of You." A smoky, slightly out of tune piano caresses a sorrowful tune with a scale that hints at Eastern Europe. Guest cellist Natalie Haas darkens and enriches the mix. Add some accordion courtesy of Mick McAuley and you have everything you need for a noirish, end of the night waltz. A perfect finish. - Peggy Latkovich

Samples from the new CD can be heard on the band's web site:

CD available from cdroots

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CD available from cdroots

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