Album Review - Buttons & Bows / The Return of Spring

It takes four stalwarts of the tradition to lead the way when it comes to unearthing a magical and fresh sounding album.  Jackie Daly, Séamus and Manus McGuire and Garry O’Briain have travelled extensively over the years. The origins of the group are very much connected with North America, and this influences their material and overall sound.

Other factors also colour their music.  The dual fiddles of Séamus and Manus on the Sligo reels, The Prohibition and The Contradiction, reinvigorate these classic tunes. The use of unusual keys and tunings and fresh new compositions add to the mix. New tunes like Fort Dunree and the opening Oyster Island, written in the style of a French musette, very much shape the mood that they achieve. With grace and style they reveal the inner beauty of waltz and slide alike, with the tender Sweet Aibhilín being one to add to your session repertoire for sure.

There is no single factor that makes this recording so special.  It comes 24 years after their last, and has a confident and sophisticated edge to it.  It displays four masters with the ambition to mine their collective pasts, and come up with a fresh and enjoyable mix of traditional and contemporary tunes.

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