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Blackwater by Altan
After much soul searching following the death of flutist Frankie Kennedy in 1994, Altan founding member Máiréad Ní Mhaonaigh finally decided to keep Altan going but without a new flutist. Instead she promoted accordionist Dermot Byrne from part-time session guest to full-fledged member. "Blackwater" begins as if nothing much as changed except the substitution of Byrne's reedy squeezebox for Kennedy's mellow wooden flute. The tunes mostly come from the northwestern County Donegal, a place where Irish and Scottish traditions mix more easily than anywhere else. The twin fiddles soar above the driving rhythms of guitarist Daithi Sproule and bouzouki player Ciaran Curran. Hints of the band's sorrowful loss make themselves felt, however. Ní Mhaonaigh sings both the Gaelic love song, "Tá Mé 'Mo Shui," and the English love song, "Blackwaterside," in a pure soprano filled with a harrowing sense of loss. And the album concludes with the instrumental, "A Tune for Frankie," which features a slow fiddle part that seems to hover between mourning and fond affection. --Geoffrey Himes
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language: : French
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 5.5 x 0.25 inches; 2.5 Ounces
- Manufacturer : NARADA PRODUCTIONS
- Run time : 40 minutes
- SPARS Code : DDD
- Date First Available : February 7, 2007
- Label : NARADA PRODUCTIONS
- ASIN : B000000WAU
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #101,335 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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There is, inevitably I suppose, a strain of melancholy running through Blackwater like a faint thread, but it only goes to highlight in the most winning way the inherent bittersweetness of much Irish music. You can certainly hear it in the final track here, A Tune For Frankie, composed by the singer and played with suitable gravitas by the group.
Her singing of the well-known, and oft-covered, Blackwaterside, is haunting. She has a beguiling, direct way of singing, and I`ve rarely heard this ominous song performed with such simple honesty.
This isn`t music which loudly calls attention to itself, but rather draws you in like the allure of a dark wood or the scent of water. It`s put together with loving care, as is the booklet, complete with lyrics and full listings. Despite any downbeat hints in these twelve tracks, this is ultimately uplifting, celebratory music - one feels they went into the studio as much to honour a life as to mourn. And to make wonderful music!
They most certainly succeeded.
Herein is contained, as my review title declares, distilled beauty.