Album Review - North Texas School of Music / Winter Air

From the opening song Gleanntáin Ghlas' Ghaoth Dobhair on Winter Air you could easily be listening to a track by any mainstream recording artist, such is the quality and production values herein. The album is in fact by a music school, namely North Texas School of Music. You simply don't expect this quality from a music school. It excels on the evocative Clannad-like tracks that feature layers of harp, strings and hushed vocals. They mix the tracks with a distant mystical quality that takes the sharp edges off the solo instruments. This befits a winter themed album.  Tracks like Coinnleach Ghlas an Fhómhair and Suantraí are outstanding.  The list goes on with Don Oiche Ud I Mbeithill being an equally compelling track and probably the album highlight. 

While it is evident that they have some serious talent in their senior vocalists and harp department, you might expect them to falter on some of the instrumental tracks. Not so.  They play to their strengths and seek out a moderately paced  and purer melody, rather than chasing a fast and furious version of some far off tradition. On Snowy Path they balance a melodic guitar intro and outro with fiddle and flute and build from there. On the jig sets and slower numbers they stick to solid piano lines, with clear structure and tempo being the order of the day.  This ensures that the tracks do not get ragged at the edges.  Assisted by their senior tutors and musical director and fiddler James Kelly, they have produced a beautifully balanced recording.  It’s a fundraiser album in support of the school and deserves recognition for the work that has gone into it.  For your money you get a superior recording that you will revisit and play.  It's that good.

Listen and buy : www.schoolofirishmusic.org/WinterAir

 

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Comment by Tim Kennedy on February 4, 2014 at 14:43

Very kind words Tony. Thank-you!

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