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A Moment of Madness
Private Label  IMDNCDBR01

A joyous romp through the music of Cork and Kerry, courtesy of local box-player Brendan and roving fiddler Caoimhín: this album has all the charm of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, with its slides and polkas, curious melodies and odd rhythms. Begley and Ó Raghallaigh pay tribute to the late Denis Murphy and Johnny Leary, but even from such great names you'd be hard pressed to find a finer celebration of Munster music. Think Noel Hill and Tony MacMahon in Knocknagree. Think North Cregg, Monks of the Screw, the wilder side of West Cork or Kerry, and then some. Starting with a couple of catchy polkas, these two playful fellows romp through Sean Keane's, The Humours of Lisheen, O'Sullivan's March, The Chancellor, The Green Cottage, I Wish I Had a Kerry Cow, The P&O Polka and more. In between, slower numbers such as An Buachaill Caol Dubh, An Chéad Mháirt den Fhomhair or even Cronin's Slippery Jig are performed with remarkable grace and tenderness.

With nothing more than button box and fiddle, Begley and Ó Raghallaigh create a wall of sound and a sense of fun which is rare indeed. Old favourites are plentiful here - The Glen Cottage Polka, I'll Tell Me Ma, Walshe's Hornpipe, The Munster Jig - every one brushed down and buffed up by this brilliant duo. The recording isn't without its mad moments, living up to its name: An Seanchaí Muimhneach runs away under its own steam, and Julia's Norwegian Polka is a photo finish. For me, this spontaneity and spark sets exactly the right tone, music among friends, for its own sake, nothing to prove and everything to enjoy. Both these musicians have distinguished themselves in more controlled settings, and it's great to hear them cut loose. A Moment of Madness includes some of the finest Irish box and fiddle you'll hear, but it wouldn't be out of place in any village hall or local session. No pretentions, just powerful playing and plenty of spirit: this album is a joy to experience.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.