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CD: The Gloaming - The Gloaming | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Gloaming - The Gloaming

CD: The Gloaming - The Gloaming

A remarkable debut album from Irish music's latest supergroup

Creating a unique group sound: The Gloaming

Musically, lyrically, dramatically, on every count this debut album from The Gloaming is exceptional. Four-fifths of the group - Clare fiddle player Martin Hayes, Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, the Cúil Aodha sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionaird and Dublin-born hardanger player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh - are all well-known figures within traditional Irish music. It's The Gloaming's fifth member, New York-based pianist (and album producer) Thomas Bartlett, whose harmonic, rhythmic and textural effects serve to paint this music on a wider, more expansive canvas.

Bringing together a song and six tunes, the epic “Opening Set” lays all the elements bare: Ó Lionaird effortlessly opens up the musical space in “Cois an Ghaorthaidh”, before the strings gently lead into a sublime slip jig (“Catherine Kelly’s”) and jig (“P. Joe’ s Lullaby”, named after Martin's father). Then, four reels to bring us home: “The Mill Stream” and “Rolling In The Barrel” - with the shift between tunes from A major to E minor one of many coup de théâtres - followed by “The Tap Room” and “Tom Doherty’s”. By the time we reach the final reel the band is in full flight with Cahill's motoric, dancing guitar chords, Bartlett's thunderous bass notes and syncopated right-hand commentaries, coupled with the increasingly impassioned repetitions of the tune by Hayes and Ó Raghallaigh. The results are magnificent.

Cast in a beguilingly different harmonic light, other tune sets such as "Allistrum's March" and "The Sailor's Bonnet" make you hear anew the inherent strength and melodic power of this music.

Singing with uncommon purity throughout his range, Ó Lionaird's four songs - the transcendent and venerably ancient “Song 44”, the gently lilting “Necklace of Wrens”, the hymn-like “Freedom” (an adaptation of “Saoirse” by the twentieth century Co. Cork poet Seán Pádraig Ó Ríordáin) and the hypnotic “Samhradh, Samhradh” - are all stand-outs. You will never hear these songs sung more beautifully.

Watch The Gloaming perform at Triskel Christchurch, Cork

Cast in a beguilingly different harmonic light, tune sets such as 'Allistrum's March' and 'The Sailor's Bonnet' make you hear anew the inherent strength and melodic power of this music

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