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The all-female Irish-American ensemble, on their second release for the Rounder label, have fashioned an uncluttered, forward-looking yet tradition-based and unabashedly sentimental set. Recorded between Scotland, where producer Phil Cunningham resides, and the United States, with guest stints from Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon, British folk star Kate Rusby and Karen Matheson of the Scottish supergroup Capercaille, this may well be their personal best to date. Bandleader Joanie Madden’s dulcet tone and precise yet lyrical phrasing on various flutes and whistles remain world-class and are clearly still evolving; very few players can remotely approach her degree of virtuosity. Sweet Thames Flow Softly, one of Ewan MacColl’s most wistful love songs, is given an especially lovely interpretation. Fronted by lead singer Heidi Talbot’s bittersweet vocal, it is youth-recollected-from-age personified. Of course, as so much Irish music is meant for dancing, there are several medleys of lively jigs and reels, performed with the unflagging rhythmic brio and melodic dispatch CTL fans have come to expect. And any crusty misogynist laboring under the delusion that no gathering of ladies could ever rock HIS house is in for an abrupt change of life! —Christina Roden

Edited by [deleted user] on 8 Dec 2008, 22:17

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