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GATEHOUSE - Heather Down The Moor 

GATEHOUSE - Heather Down The Moor 
Gael Linn CEFCD214 

This is the second album by the Roscommon-based Gatehouse, and this one develops the band’s repertoire, which is largely drawn from the north Connacht traditions. Gatehouse are Rachel Garvey, vocals; Jacinta McEvoy, guitars and concertina; John McEvoy, fiddle and mandolin; and John Wynne, flutes and whistles. Guest musicians are Alan Kelly, piano accordion; John Joe Kelly, bodhrán; Michael McCague, bouzouki; Conor McEvoy, fiddle; Paddy McEvoy, piano; and Dónal O’Connor, harmonium. Put all this lot together and the result is a cracker of a CD, which combines songs in English and Irish with traditional tunes and new compositions by John McEvoy.

The overall playing is both tight and fluid, with a light feel which has been splendidly arranged to allow every musician to be clearly heard as they develop an interplay which ranges from delicate to powerful. Although the arrangements are often intricate, they are never overdone, so that the essential nature of the tunes is maintained throughout, in a way which makes me feel that they were all enjoying themselves mightily whilst playing. Particular mention should be made of Rachel’s singing, which has a really bright tone and tells the stories of the song clearly and effortlessly – no wonder she is an All-Ireland winner in songs of both languages.

As you would expect from Gael Linn, the production and engineering standards are top quality, and the balance between the different tracks all comes together to produce a very pleasant recording indeed. This is a band to look out for in your travels (or theirs!)

Gordon Potter


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine