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Horse With a Heart

Altan

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Album Review

From one of the premier Irish bands around comes this masterwork of fiddles and vocals. The highlight throughout the album is the parallel fiddling of Maighread Ní Mhaonaigh and Paul O'Shaughnessy. While this album predates some of their slightly better-known work, it provides the same basic set of music: reels, jigs, Gaelic vocals, etc. Ní Mhaonaigh's vocals stand out excellently over the top of the rest of the ensemble when present, and work well with the guest pianist on "The Lass of Glenshee," breaking up the fiddle and flute tracks for a bit. The technique is outstanding, as one would expect from a group with this level of acclaim. The real delight in this album is most likely the manner in which the group members show themselves to be capable of so many aspects of Irish music, all with a high level of ability. They seamlessly switch from jigs on fiddles to unaccompanied Gaelic songs to flute numbers and back. This would serve well as a nice introduction to Irish music, as it covers many of the basic genres. For someone already accustomed to Irish music, it would perhaps stand even better, as the players show off their abilities, which are quite worth hearing. Pick it up for at least one listen.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

With their Northern Ireland-style twin fiddling and accordion melodies accented by acoustic guitar and bouzouki, Altan has grown into one of the top traditional bands in Ireland. The inspiration for Altan was sparked when Donegal-born fiddler and vocalist Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh met Belfast-born flute player Frankie Kennedy. Ní Mhaonaigh had learned the traditional style of fiddling from her father, Francie, who had learned it from his mother, Roise. Influential Irish fiddler Dinny McLaughlin, who frequented...
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Horse With a Heart, Altan
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