The Merry Sisters Of Fate


Green Linnet Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Celtic music can be boring as cold Cream-Of-Wheat. It's a great musical form when it's done right, but sacrifice its spark and it becomes dull, dull, dull. Thankfully, Lunasa doesn't have this problem; in fact, they're one of the best things to happen to traditional Irish music in years - and their latest CD, The Merry Sisters Of Fate, is no exception.

Lunasa is kind of an Irish music 'dream team'. Bassist Trevor Hutchinson, a central part of the band's sound, was a member of the Waterboys. Fiddler Sean Smyth is a past All-Ireland fiddling champion. Kevin Crawford is acclaimed by many as the greatest living player of traditional Irish flute and pipes. Add in the guitar work of Donogh Hennessy, formerly of the Sharon Shannon Band (more on him later), and the pipework of Cillian Vallely, and Lunasa is a solid piece of work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The thing that struck me immediately about Merry Sisters is the string work. No, not the fiddle, though the fiddle is excellent; the guitars and the bass. Trevor Hutchinson's bass playing is the heartbeat of this CD; it echoes vibrantly throughout, a rich and constant undercurrent that adds richness to what can be a thin-sounding genre. Hennessy's acoustic guitar work adds an additional dimension, smoothing and enriching the sound further.

It is rare, in my experience, to have a traditional Celtic band sound this deep. Lunasa delivers on Merry Sisters, aided by crystal-clear production from Ed Kenehan and David Odlum. This CD sounds good from the gate, and just gets better. Special tracks of note include the opening track, the rich and haunting "Aoibhneas"; the part-original composition "Donogh and Mike's", with one of the best acoustic guitar intros I've ever heard in traditional Irish music; the wistful "Inion Ni Scannlain" and "Casu"; and the complex interweaving melody lines of "Scully's".

There are a couple of points where Lunasa's sound thins out enough to be a bit hollow, specifically on "The Minor Bee" and "The Merry Sisters Of Fate", but overall they maintain their dynamic sound and prove that they are the team to beat when it comes to traditional Irish music. No less a personage than Matt Molloy - former flutist of Irish music greats The Bothy Band and current flutist for the Chieftains - has been wowed by the talent and the passion in Lunasa. Fans of Irish music should waste no time in joining him.

Rating: B+

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© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Green Linnet Records, and is used for informational purposes only.