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Tears of Stone

The Chieftains

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Album Review

This album is a follow-up to the 1995 album The Long Black Veil. The idea is the same: the Chieftains play house band for many guest vocalists and musicians. The difference this time around is that all the musicians and vocalists featured are women. Sinéad O'Connor is the one return performance, and she justifies that honor with her sorrowful and beautiful rendition of the traditional song "Factory Girl." The roster of guests is diverse, and it is a credit to the musical ability of the Chieftains to keep a common thread going and blend their arrangements with all the different voices. Bonnie Raitt sounds just as much an Irish folk singer on her track "A Stor Mo Chrio" as Loreena McKennitt does on her version of "Ye Rambling Boys of Pleasure." The trick is that Paddy Maloney's arrangements highlight the unique talents of each guest. Most of the songs are traditional Irish tunes with new arrangements, the exceptions being the haunting "The Magdalene Laundries" written and sung by Joni Mitchell and strange but somehow fitting "Sake in the Jar" written and sung by Akiko Yano. The song features Japanese percussion instruments and should stick out among the distinctly Celtic contributions here, but it blends right in. Paddy Maloney states in the liner notes that the point of the project was to "marry the many-faceted voices of contemporary women artists from around the world with the simple beauty of traditional Irish music." It is a job well done.

Biography

Formed: 1963 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The original traditional Irish folk band, as far as anyone who came of age in the 1970s or '80s is concerned, is the Chieftains. Their sound, built largely on Paddy Moloney's pipes, is otherworldly, almost entirely instrumental, and seems as though it comes out of another age of man's history. That they...
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