Given all she's done in the past, it's hard to believe this is Nuala Kennedy's debut CD. Born in Ireland and now residing in Scotland, the flutist, whistle player, and singer is an excellent composer, but also a highly skilled and sympathetic interpreter of contemporary and traditional Celtic material. On The New Shoes, Kennedy is backed by an excellent band plus a few guests (the trumpet on "Erin on the Rhine" adds an unusual but lovely combination). Kennedy sings on several pieces, and although she possesses a competent voice, which is framed best on "Cáit i nGarráin a Bhile," she's not stunning, certainly not compared to her shimmering, agile flute work. Working alongside Claire Mann, who also plays flutes and whistles, she creates the kind of double-teaming reminiscent of Flook, but with the emphasis squarely on Celtic music of all kinds. The instrumental sets are well put together, flowing seamlessly from one tune to the next, as on "Hop Jigs," for instance, or the closing title track, which is made for dancing and breaking in those new shoes. It's worth hanging on a few seconds, too, for the untitled bonus cut, which puts Kennedy together with flutist Jane Rigler for a stunning duet.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson