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NIAMH NÍ CHARRA - From Both Sides

NIAMH NÍ CHARRA - From Both Sides
Own Label IMCD 001

Fresh from the footlights of Riverdance, Niamh Ní Charra is a consummate showgirl. Less than two minutes into this debut CD, the change from languid fiddle to fiery concertina grabs your attention, and from that moment you're hooked. Whether it's slow airs or reels, jigs or czardas, nothing disappoints. Yes, czardas: four of them, fiddle triupmhs each one, followed by a masterly handling of The Gravel Walks. Other forays beyond Irish music include Bill Monroe's bluegrass slow drag Crossing the Cumberlands and one of the many classical compositions for (English) concertina, both delivered with charm and panache. Niamh's native Kerry is evident in the relaxed pace of reels and jigs, and the contrasting vigour with which the final set of slides is attacked. Johnny O'Leary's and The Hare in the Corn get a good battering, while The Turnpike receives the sweetest treatment I can recall.

The lightning switches between fiddle and concertina are not a feature of Niamh's live performances, but most of the other arrangements stay clear of studio effects. To be honest, Niamh doesn't need 'em: she can vary the pace and style on her two instruments, and the addition of a few backing musicians is more than enough to fill fifty-two minutes. She also has the sense to bring in Brendan Begley for vocals on the song An Raibh Tú ag an gCarraig, and to use his accordion for added punch on those slides. Her own compositions are better than good, six of them spread across thirteen tracks. San Antonio and Downtime Delirium are powerful modern reels, and the waltz Soldier's Exile shows a gentler side of Niamh's creative talent. Whichever side you look at it from, Niamh Ní Charra's solo debut is a total success: will get you even closer to her music, and tell you what else she's up to.

Alex Monaghan


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