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BOYS OF THE LOUGH "Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes"
Lough Records Lough 008CD

What can I say about the BOTL that hasn't been said? Well - they are now sans Aly Bain and have added "guest musician" Kevin Henderson to fill the gap. The band is now Dave Richardson and Cathal McConnell, with Brendan Begley's accordion and Malcolm Stitt's guitar (etc.), supplemented by an array of guests like Ron Shaw and Paul O'Shaughnessy.

The album aims to present the "lonesome blues" of lost love and separation, alongside the "dancing shoes" that the BOTL have caused ever since their inception! The former is carried by the unmistakable sinuous singing of Cathal on well-known beauties like "The Curragh of Kildare", "Farewell, Lovely Nancy" and "I Drew My Ship Into the Harbour" - well-known, but drop-dead-gorgeous songs. For the dancing shoes - yes, it's very difficult to keep the feet still for much of this - from bouncy jigs (including one of my personal favourites in "Calliope House") and hornpipes to the slow, sexy (in my opinion!) Swedish "Favourite Waltz" that closes the album. The sleeve notes think it conveys something of the northern landscape - it speaks to me on far more sultry things.

Despite the obvious hole left by the departure of Aly Bain, this is very recognisably BOTL - Cathal's voice and whistles, coupled with Dave's small squeezeboxes and mandolin, ensure that. Relative newcomers Brendan and Malcolm simply sound like they've always been there - which is intended as a compliment. Things move on, people move on - but we still have a recognisable and most excellent Boys of the Lough. and that can't be bad.

Alan Murray

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