Altan

Another Sky

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The whole Celtic music craze turned many opportunistic American musicians into Irish Rovers, but this joyous mix of traditional jigs and folksy tunes by six natives is the real deal. The band features two fiddlers, an accordionist, a bouzzouki player, and two guitarists, with lead vocals by Maircad Ni Mhaonaigh, switching off in mood and tempo from track to track. The opening number "Bcidh Aonach Amarach" ("There's a Fair Tomorrow") sets the tone with a festive, skipping jam featuring textured guitars with vocals sung in Gaelic (the English lyrics are in the booklet) before the fiddlers take over. The mood of most of the ballads is set on "Green Grow the Rushes," a gentle little romance featuring airy voices and a subtle accordion harmony. A nonexpert in Celtic music might not catch the swift switch between traditional jigs on the colorful medley beginning with "Gusty's Frolicks," but the intensity of the playing dares listeners to keep their toes tapping in time during the celebration. A little taste of the States enters the picture on a gentle new version of Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country," which features a line or two from "Scarborough Fair." Colorfully written liner notes explain both the origins of many of these tunes as well as a brief history. The album was released just in time for St. Patty's day and is the perfect annual soundtrack to the occasion.

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