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Nimbus NI6404 

There has been a buzz of anticipatory excitement about this quartet’s debut, with its promise of improvised accompaniments (all first takes) to Molly Donnery’s vocals. The other participants are Cormac Byrne on percussion, Murray Grainger, accordion, and Adam Summerhayes on fiddle. The excitement will be widely felt to have been well-founded, I believe.

The band hit their most assured stride with track 3, William Taylor, which is later complemented by an impressive version of The Creggan White Hare, perhaps the pick of the selections. A less assertive vocal on the 8-minute Siuil A Run creates an outstanding track because the voice and hypnotic accompaniment are so complementary, thus demonstrating that there is more than one way to put a song across successfully. (I admit to having wondered whether the improvisatory approach might take the focus away from the songs themselves.)

The instrumentalists are all on fine form, with Cormac’s percussion being notable throughout. Extra marks might be awarded for bravery in respect of the first take approach, and taken as a whole, this is an impressive and distinctive debut. Time will tell, but this album might well be regarded as a significant release for some while to come.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine