As with Volume two this is another 16-track extravaganza from contributors to last year’s BBC4 and RTE (Ireland) Transatlantic Sessions as you have the likes of Eddi Reader, Alison Krauss, Declan O’Rourke, Eric Bibb, Sam Bush and Sarah Jarosz gain support from the cream of musicians who fall under the transatlantic sessions umbrella. It is one of those collections where the listener can’t help but be drawn by those who would otherwise be regarded as fringe acts to their main love. For in little to no time they become compelled to crave and search out for more by —in my case you can list O’Rourke, Iain Morrison and Amos Lee as acts I am keen to hear more from! Music directors and pickers Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain once again do a sterling job to ensure the productions compliment the acts as the pick of acoustic players converge at a remote Scottish farmstead.
Among the pick (and there are many) I was greatly taken by mandolin, fiddle ace Sam Bush’s vocals, that during recent years moved up a niche or two and become more rounded. It is a good song (‘Same Ol’ River’) from writer Jeff Black that he chose too. Reader’s ‘Leezie Lindsay’ is superb, Bibb’s ‘Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad’ is no less than one would expect from the king of cool blues guitarist, vocalist. As for multi-talented Dirk Powell he is magical on traditional piece ‘Boast Up The River’, and with a host of ace pickers in tow (Bush, Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Mike McGoldrick, Danny Thompson, Donald Shaw, Bain, John McCusker and James Mackintosh you would expect nothing different.
Morrison’s wistful, husky-toned ‘Fire In My Hands’ (bonus track) brings a mystical feel as he leads the listener through those dark, shadowy surroundings where figures dodge the light in fear of exposure. Mention must also go out to the work of Bela Fleck, Douglas (lap steel guitar) and Thompson (upright bass) who help lay down the strikingly poignant track.
If Celtic fare is your fancy then Kathleen MacInnes brings some gorgeous vocals on ‘Oran Na Cloiche (Song Of ‘The’ Stone)’ as does Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh when she is accompanied by Bain, Douglas and Shaw on arguably the most sobering song (Pe In Eirinn Ì (Whoever She May Be)’ on the album. A bonus track. Bain’s long time tour partner Phil Cunningham (‘The Lake Charles’ Waltz’) and West Of Ireland box player Sharon Shannon (‘Dreamcatcher / Off The Hook)’ too are top class as they whisk the listener to off to another place .On a collection that just gets better and more rewarding with every listen. Now for the wait till the next series, be sure to watch out for listings on BBC4 on Friday evenings (and RTE).
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