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The supposedly dour John Dowland is thought to need all the help he can get. His early 17th century songs have been sometimes jazzed up and sung by Sting, even. Still, Michael Slattery, the American tenor of Irish descent (who, as the sailor, was the first singer heard in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 'Tristan Project' seven years ago) has some cheek. He and the Canadian early music ensemble La Nef have given a selection of Dowland's very British songs an Irish lilt. And an Indian drone too, with a shruti box that is meant to be used for chanting.
It works. Dowland s tunes are sturdy, able to thrive on a lively lilt or bring a sentimental tear to the eye when offered with sweet Irish melancholy. Slattery sings with a feel for period style and the pub, and La Nef crosses genre divides with similar ease. --LA Times blog, Mark Swed
Michael Slattery and La Nef have a new album called, Dowland in Dublin. This is simply a great CD and it's one that I'm very excited about. Tenor Michael Slattery and the ensemble La Nef have joined together to celebrate what they believe is the Irish connection to John Dowland. There are many fine recordings of both the songs and instrumental works of Dowland, but what makes this recording shine is the treatment of the songs as Celtic folk songs and the caliber of performances by Slattery and the ensemble. The artists use an even hand, never forcing the music, and the pieces come to life like never before. These are not museum pieces treated with such reverence that they are curios from another era. Nay, this is flesh and blood, far from academia. Michael Slattery's voice is a wonder. The beauty of it might be enough, but his interpretation serves the music well. Never overpowering the songs, he gives each word, each phrase, exactly what is needed. It is perfection. I suspect even old John Dowland, whose 450th birthday is next year, would have been pleased. --West Virginia Public Radio, Jim Lange