Josephine Marsh - Self Titled ( Alex Monaghan )

Another excellent debut album from another brilliant young Irish musician. Josephine Marsh is a box-player from County Clare. This is not another Sharon Shannon: Josephine's music doesn't have the attack of the first lady of Irish accordion. What it does have is a warmth and soul which all the power and flair in the world can't produce. Josephine is more of a Martin Hayes than a Sharon Shannon, taking things at a more relaxed pace and putting her heart into the music. After all, that's what the Clare tradition is all about: to paraphrase Martin Hayes, if you don't feel it inside you, then it won't come out in the music.

This album is a gentle gem, full of life and humour but not in a hurry to finish the tune or break with the tradition. Most of the tunes are familiar, and all the more welcome for that. Five of Josephine's own compositions fit in quite smoothly, and the backing musicians are brilliant but unobtrusive, particularly Jim Higgins. There are the inevitable reels to start and finish, but ten reel-free tracks out of fourteen, including some lovely slow tunes. Josephine also turns her hands to the concertina for even more variety.

All in all, Josephine Marsh is a great discovery for lovers of the Clare tradition and box-players in general. I'm really looking forward to hearing her live in Dublin, and it shouldn't be long before her music is available far beyond Irish shores.

Alex Monaghan The Living Tradition

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