Celtic Nots

Not Music

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The Celtic Nots are back, with their follow-up album to Rope Tricks, titled Not Music. This band definitely has a sense of humor, as the name puns show. (Plus, if you check out their website, they do anagrams of bandmembers' names, producing results like Olden Rascal, Loin Tilt Glee, and Nuts Jam Here. These guys have a lively sense of fun.) Musically, that sense of fun shows in the upbeat, cheerful arrangement of "Eamonn's Reel/The Shepherd's Daughter," with lilting pennywhistle threaded through, which is also one of the more memorable selections they offer this time. Now, the Nots do have a tendency to turn instrumental breaks or introductions into extended jam sessions, and, in some cases, it would help to leave the jamming for live performances and tighten it up a bit for the recording. For instance, take their version of the traditional gruesome ballad "The Laidley Worm & the Mackerel of the Sea." They give it an instrumental introduction that's nearly two minutes long, and this is a lengthy ballad to begin with. Then there's another minute's worth of instrumental interlude midway. While the instrumentals are melodic, and skillfully played, some listeners may find themselves wishing that the Nots would cut to the chase a bit sooner. The same applies to their version of "Shady Grove." On its plus side, it has a distinctive and unusual sound from its improvised banjo-tabla meld. On the other hand, the instrumental break goes on for nearly two minutes. Granted, two minutes is not so long, objectively, but subjectively, it's enough of a gap between verses that the final chorus feels like it's hanging out in left field as an afterthought. So, while concerns about pacing extend on into this second release, still, it's a pleasant listen and an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

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