Natural Angle

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For their fifth album, Irish band Grada have enlisted the services of Tim O'Brien as producer, as well as employing his musical services on "The Hutt Reels," "Pretty Polly," and "Louis Collins" (their label head, Alison Brown, also guests on two tracks). It's been three years since their last disc, and they've undergone some personnel changes, but the musical core remains strong, with Nicola Joyce contributing sweet vocals to several tracks, most notably the traditional "Butcher Boy" (a variant on "I Wish I Was a Maid Again"). They're equally strong on instrumental sets and songs, able to vary the mood between the elegiac "Salthill Bugalú" and an interesting take on Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins," which sounds nothing like a blues here, given a very Irish makeover. There's a good mix of the traditional and original, with one song by O'Brien, "John Riley," an Irish emigration ballad with a twist. This is a band that continues to grow and plow its own furrow.

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