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GRÁDA - Cloudy Day Navigation

GRÁDA - Cloudy Day Navigation
Compass 7 4451-2

Gráda is a hard-working five-piece based in Dublin and Co. Galway, who make a pleasing sound based loosely on a soft-edged traditional approach, easygoing yet thoughtful. In paying tribute to the diverse sources of their chosen repertoire, they also establish a connection with contemporary songwriters who share a common Irish heritage. So, on the expected instrumental sets which form around two-thirds of this (Gráda’s third) CD, we encounter a mixture of newly-penned group compositions with confident and laid-back arrangements of traditional tunes. Interspersed among which, Gráda turn in some appealing interpretations of songs which share the common theme of travel – journeys, or finding one’s way. These include contemporary compositions by Susan McKeown (River), Susanne Vega (The Queen And The Soldier) and Sonny Condell (Cooler At The Edge), but possibly more interesting is the one traditional selection, a version of The Eighteenth Of June (which also features guest trumpet and cello contributions). Lead vocals mostly fall to Galway-born bodhrán/fiddle player Nicola Joyce, while the remaining group roles are taken by New Zealander Andrew Laking (bass, guitar, vocals), Tallaght-born Alan Doherty (flutes, whistles, vocals), Dublin-born Gerry Paul (guitars, vocals) and Colin Farrell (fiddle, whistle, uilleann pipes). Together they make a full, albeit light-textured sound which can’t be faulted for its professionalism and general all-round musicianship, while the album’s production, by Lúnasa’s Trevor Hutchinson, is similarly accomplished. It’s a pleasant (if not outstanding) disc, and much of it grows on me, but even after a few plays I’m finding it still errs on the side of insubstantial, perhaps partly because many of the tracks are set at a fairly uniform mid-tempo pace that feels a little too comfortable. The CD comes with a companion bonus DVD presenting six tracks filmed in concert in Dublin last August, of which four are live renditions of tracks from the main (audio) CD.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 75 of The Living Tradition magazine.