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Album Review

Although Martin Furey is best known for his work in the fairly traditional Celtic folk groups Bohinta and Mouth Music, his solo album Howl is something else entirely, a skeletal singer/songwriter album in the Richard Thompson/John Martyn tradition, with the hushed intimacy of the former and the jazz and blues explorations of the latter to go along with the songs' roots in Irish folk. Though Furey is primarily a guitarist, most of the songs on Howl are based on his organ and electric piano playing, giving the album a low-key, mellow feel that fits the largely minor-key ballads perfectly, even though it also means that the few more up-tempo tunes bear a certain resemblance to Gerry Rafferty's work circa "Baker Street." Not necessarily a bad thing, but it may make some Celtic purists nervous. Which is a shame, because then they'd miss stunners like the Nick Drake-like spooky ballad "Strange Bird."

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