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Local Ground

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Album Review

When Altan first lit up the folk scene in 1989 with the superb Horse With a Heart, critics and listeners alike heralded them as the future of traditional Celtic music. Slowly but surely the group lived up to its promise, delivering album after album of forward-thinking jigs, ballads, reels, and airs, but as the genre became flooded with likeminded acts, Altan records began to show signs of wear and tear, with keyboards and fretless bass replacing the band's signature acoustic — but still very contemporary — sound. Altan have managed to rediscover the spirit that originally moved them on Local Ground, their tenth studio release and third since leaving Green Linnet for the Narada label. The heavenly voice of lead singer/fiddler Maighread Ní Mhaonaigh has never sounded better, especially on standout ballads like "As I Roved Out" and "The Wind and Rain," and the group — always a single organism — rips through piece after piece like the bandmembers' lives depended on it. Other highlights include the fiery "Tommy Peoples/The Road to Cashel/The Repeal of the Union/Richie's Reel," the rousing traditional tale of young love — with additional lyrics penned by Maighread's father — "Éirigh 's Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh (Arise Now and Dress Yourself)," and the gorgeous closer — an effective Altan tradition — "Dún Do Shúil (Close Your Eyes)."

Customer Reviews

A Treasure from Donegal

Being at an Altan concert is a preview of what Heaven must be like. In fact, an Altan show is nothing short of foot-stomping, hand-clapping, musical bliss. Not only are these folks among the finest Irish musicians in the world, but they are among the finest musicians in the world. If you're wondering what Donegal sounds like - you've found it. If you're been wandering in search of spellbindingly good Celtic music, then stop right here, grab a pint, and prepare to be amazed. Altan has it all.

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...
Full Bio