Album Review : Aoife Ní Chaoimh & Paudie O'Connor / Didn't She Dance and Dance

This new release by Aoife Ní Chaoimh and Paudie O’Connor was in many people’s Top 3 releases for 2014.  It really is that good.  The tunes within it are Aoife and Paudie’s interpretation of what they have seen and heard over the many years they have been playing.  These tunes are as much informed by place as they are by individuals.  Sliabh Luachra and its tradition of music and dance has a gravitational pull on musicians that centres them in their musical orbits, with their music never straying too far from the community, people and area. The album therefore takes on the most solid of coats and remains grounded throughout with the music of the area.  Each track is carefully referenced back to the names that are now so familiar;  Billy Clifford, Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford, Pádraig O'Keeffe and Dan Jeremiah O’ Connor.

Subtle variations in some well-known tunes like The Rambling Pitchfork and The Pidgeon on the Gate open up the music to learners.  Two alternative versions of The Frost is all Over as well as the slides and polkas synonymous with the area fill out the tracks.  Only three sets of reels within the 16 tracks, as you would expect.  For anyone who wonders about the magic of the region, this album captures it in all its spirited glory, better than any that I have heard of late. The marriage of accordion and fiddle has never sounded as good and with support from Paul de Grae and Ruairí McGorman on guitar and bouzouki you get an outstanding album of traditional music. 10 out of 10.

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