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Album Review

A band fronted by a pair of flutes is quite daring. There's a lightness to the sound, but when your only backing is guitar (or bouzouki, or mandolin) and bodhran, it can be like walking a tightrope without a net beneath. But Flook works so well because of the combined talents of Sarah Allen and Brian Finnegan, who can work their way through a range of flutes and whistles, with Allen also able to call on her accordion. Whether working in harmony, unison, or playing off each other, melody remains their strong suit throughout, as on the aptly named "The Gentle Giant," which truly is gentle, or "Flatfish," which works easily through a number of moods. But they certainly don't deserve all the credit. Ed Boyd, on things with a fretboard, gives full support, while John Joe Kelly can make the bodhran seem like a full percussion orchestra, as he does on "Happy Jigs," where he powers the group through an upbeat set. While the feel is definitely Celtic throughout, they're certainly not limited by country and genre — Allen, a veteran of Barely Works and Blowzabella, is a veteran of moving among styles. Everything here is done with a lightness and subtlety of touch that shows just how strong the musicianship in this band is, like Finnegan's delightful whistle work on "Waltzes," for example. But when they get to the closing "Flutopia," things take off fantastically, roaring through Spain and central Europe before finishing on a Celtic high note. It's a delicate act that Flook pulls off, but the bandmembers do it with such skill and bravura that it's impossible not to applaud.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

A frontline of three flutes and whistles isn't the kind of thing to guarantee success, even in the folk field, but that's what Flook (named for a cartoon-strip character who used to appear in one of the British dailies) opted to do when they began life in 1996. There's no denying that it brought them plenty of attention, but in part that was because of the quality of the playing and the backgrounds the musicians brought to the project. Irishman Brian Finnegan had been a member of Upstairs in a Tent,...
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Flatfish, Flook
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