A La Cut

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When three-and-a-half years is the time span between recordings, either you're a megastar living off the massive earnings of past projects or major internal or contractual changes have taken place. In the case of Austria's Ballycotton, it can safely be said that the band is not a household name. And upon hearing this album, it's evident that musical and personnel changes have in fact redirected the course of the group. More frequently than not, previous recordings displayed the band's penchant for Celtic music with sprigs of other world music forms tossed in to spice things up. This album introduces fiddler/multi-instrumentalist Jock Brocks and violinist Christina Gaismeier as replacements for Matthias Jakisic, who had provided much of the Celtic material through his arranging and compositional style. Ballycotton's new sound is much broader in scope, as all members contribute toward the songwriting. Gaismeier's classical background is apparent -- injecting a certain Euro-chamber elegance into the music -- while Brocks' wide-ranging folk influences provide a rougher, more traditionally-based edge. The accomplished abilities of Alex K├Ânig on banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, and acoustic guitars add distinguished touches as well, regardless of the structure of each piece. In fact, he even plays flamenco guitar on his self-penned "Culpado" and "Calima." A La Cut offers a variety of acoustic forms of world music, which Ballycotton delivers meticulously and flawlessly.

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