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Ships In the Forest

Karan Casey

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Album Review

You have to admire Karan Casey for being willing to take chances with her material. Certainly, she doesn't have to prove herself as a singer, since she's already at the top of the tree, so instead she seems to have set herself challenges. There's very much a bleakness to some of the songs, with a couple falling squarely into the anti-war camp ("Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye" and a dark, droning version of Joni Mitchell's "The Fiddle and the Drum"), but the feeling is of sorrow rather than anger. There's a track in Gaelic, and a gorgeous Martin Furey song, "Town of Athlone," which holds its own against any traditional ballad, as well as some heartbreak on "I Once Loved a Lass" and "Love Is Pleasing," deftly and delicately handled. And it possibly wouldn't be a real Irish album without an emigration ballad ("Erin's Lovely Home") or one of nationalism ("Dunlavin Green") — but Casey has picked songs that are outside the common mold, for all that they're traditional. She's developed into a singer or great and glorious subtlety who can communicate emotions with a dazzling range, and these songs force her to do just that, but without any histrionics. On "Black Is the Colour" you feel the awe and gentle love of singer for subject, for example. With Ships in the Forest, Casey shows herself capable of anything.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

As a part of the Irish folk group Solas, Karan Casey has defined herself as one of Ireland's best, joining the distinguished ranks of fellow female singer/songwriters such as Clannad's Maire Brennan, Sharon Shannon, and Karen Matheson of Capercaillie. The Wall Street Journal's music writer Earle Hitchner...
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Ships In the Forest, Karan Casey
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