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Album Review

Hush is a fitting title for Pauline Scanlon's second album, which finds her exploring territory a bit further afield from her traditional Irish roots while maintaining her trademark vocal sound: a soft, sweet tone that sounds like the feeling of fingertips on your cheek. Her diction, too, is casual, her delivery generally landing somewhere near but not directly on the beat. It's a nice effect, especially when it softens the sharp rhythmic edges of a tune like "Wearin' the Britches" or "Farewell My Love, Remember Me." At times her slurry way with consonants comes across as just a bit too mannered, but in general her singing style is refreshingly personal. It's showcased to best effect here on the sweetly sad "Lambs on the Green Hills" and on a delicately lovely rendition of "Deartháirín ó Mo Chroí," both of which benefit greatly from the spare arrangements created by Scanlon and her collaborator, former Lúnasa guitarist Donogh Hennessy. In fact, the arrangements on this album are all stellar, with the possible exception of "Demon Lover," on which Scanlon is joined by the American singer/songwriter Darrell Scott — a very fine singer, but one whose rough American drawl and bluegrass-inflected rhythm guitar are a poor match for the song and a poorer one for Scanlon's breathy delivery. Despite its occasional quirks and idiosyncrasies, though, this is a very fine album overall and one that Scanlon's growing legion of fans will be sure to enjoy.

Hush, Pauline Scanlon
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