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CITIZENS KEANE "The Keane Family" CR002CD

I can think of no harder fate than to be another singer in any line-up that includes Sean Keane. When you've got one of the best living singers in the line-up, you must know that when the songs are being divvied up, there will fans out there (no matter how good the others are) who simply fume that others than Sean are taking up some of the precious songs if it's a live gig, or even more so if it's the limited amount of time typical of a CD.

It says a great deal for the abilities of the brothers on this outing that, yes, although this inevitably does happen (and I've just seen them live in Glasgow, where there was evidence that this, to some extent was the case, so it's not just me) the others on the album do have a lot going for them

Citizens Keane is the name of the CD and the project that grew out of a series of concerts at the Galway Arts Festival last year, and brought together, performing professionally for the first time Noel, Matt, Sean and Pat Keane.

It's not just a highly enjoyable work, with the four clearly having a great time, but an interesting piece of insight into the varied and various influences that have left their impression upon one of Ireland's most respected musical families -shades of contemporary, bluegrass, folk ballads, humorous and country songs are all here.

Each brother contributed songs from his own personal repertoire, and they join forces also on a number of ensemble pieces, which show off the effect of their combined voices.

Matt has two very effective ballads which he handles sensitively, particularly "Mise Raifteiri" where he crosses from Gaelic to English and back, whilst Pat is fascinating to listen to. Fascinating because although he doesn't change voice, he has the ability to deliver the traditional "Bonnie Labouring Boy" with an authenticity that would satisfy the most taxing of judges who go in for that kind of thing, you are struck by the more nasal intonation he allows to come to the fore on "The Logger". His singing on this brings to mind the late Hank Snow, and it's only after you hear this and switch back to "Labouring Boy" that you're aware that it's still there but much more in the background. Noel's the John Entwhistle of the four, but makes effective his contribution not only in song but also on accordions.

Sean on this outing is again demonstrating the uncanny ability to pick just the right songs and none so more than the lovely Alan Reid song "The Pleasure will be Mine".

Lovely album of varied material, which'll leave you smiling as they exit to "Que Sera, Sera" - Doris Day was probably a wee Galway wumman right enough.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 51 of The Living Tradition magazine.