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TEADA Inné Amárach

TEADA - Inné Amárach
Gael-Linn CEFCD188

This third album from Téada has completely changed my opinion of the band. I found their first album rather bland, and their second was a bit rough and ready, but Inné Amárach is a delight from start to finish. It won't blow your socks off, but it will open your mind and refresh your soul. Why? Because here is a quintet of brilliant young musicians who have decided to present Irish music as it really is: the joy of it, the full breadth and depth of it, and sometimes (but not always) the power and pace of it.

Yes, there are reels here: it's mainly Sligo dance music, so there would have to be reels. But when was the last time a Sligo album included marches, slip-jigs, barn dances, polkas, slides, planxties, and even a rare descriptive piece?

In many ways this CD takes us back to the heyday of ceili band recordings, before Planxty and The Bothy Band changed perceptions of Irish music. The medley of Jamesy Gannon's, McDermott's and Over the Moor to Peggy strings together a march, a barn dance and a reel: you'd swear you were listening to an exquisitely restored recording of the old Glenside or Castle band at their best. New recruit Damien Stenson does an equally splendid job on The Shelf, a driving polka learnt from Harry Bradley and played as a rousing flute and bodhrán duet here.

Even the reels are exceptional: Sarah's Delight, Paddy Sean Nancy's, The Ireland We Knew, and The Ewe Reel are all a little out of the ordinary but their provenance is second to none: Paddy O'Brien, Johnny Henry, Ed Reavy and Packie Dolan respectively. Téada show enormous respect for the music of their forebears, and this comes through in their inspired choice of material and their success in recreating the sounds of a former era.

The inclusion of the complex descriptive piece Nóra Críona is a rarity indeed. I don't remember a band doing this since The Chieftains recorded Bonaparte's Retreat, but it works beautifully here and adds a special grace and depth to the album. Contrast that with the light and easy touch on the single jigs Port Aitheantais na gCaipíní and Johnny's So Long at the Fair, a real kitchen session feel with barely a hint of accompaniment behind the melody. Then the full band sound returns for the final track, three big reels on overdrive: Bonnie Ann, John Kelly's and The Boy in the Boat ending a glorious album.

With full and informative sleeve notes, and a bonus half-hour DVD featuring more tunes and talk from the likes of Peter Horan and Paddy Ryan, Inné Amárach is a marvellous tribute to musicians of the past and a veritable beacon for Irish music of the future. One of this year's highlights.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.