Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers

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It would be hard for Solas to top their eponymous debut album, and the group don't quite succeed, but they do present a wonderful follow-up nonetheless. Things are a bit more self-conscious and experimental this time around: Séamus Egan brings his banjo to the proceedings, playing it with an incredible rhythmic technique, and guest percussionist John Anthony bangs on drums from Europe, Africa, and Asia. The music, however, is still traditional, and that may keep the band from drifting off into worldbeat genericness. "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" is given a modern treatment but is still the same old story of rebellion wrapped in a love song. "The Unquiet Grave" starts with a conventional sentiment -- "Cold blows the wind upon my true love" -- but then develops into a weird dialogue between a man and his dead sweetheart. The instrumentals, as always, are dense and engaging. Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers is recommended to any fan of modern Irish music.

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