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Down the Line

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Album Review

For his first solo album, Altan fiddler and whistle player Ciaran Tourish doesn't move far from the template established by his longtime band. Over a strictly traditional acoustic setting, Tourish solos on both of his primary instruments on a selection of traditional Irish dance tunes and a small handful of his own compositions in the style. As a fiddler, Tourish isn't interested in flash or showboating displays of speed, preferring to let his melodies do the work for him. It's a refreshingly humble attitude in a style that occasional pays more attention to chops than is strictly necessary. On the three vocal tracks, Tourish cedes the spotlight almost entirely, first to Paul Brady on his own "Dreams Will Come" (a typically excellent performance by a faithfully excellent performer) and later to Maura O'Connell on the traditional air "Slan Le Mhaigh" (ditto). In between is a less successful cross-cultural experiment. The version of the Carter Family's "Are You Tired of Me, My Darling?" is clearly meant to make plain the historical connections between country music and Irish folk traditions, but in an unfamiliar musical context, singers Alison Krauss and Tim O'Brien merely sound stiff and uncomfortable. That misstep aside, Down the Line is an encouraging solo debut.

Down the Line, Ciarán Tourish
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