Séamus Egan

When Juniper Sleeps

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Seamus Egan's debut recording was made ten years before this one, when he was only sixteen and had already won All-Ireland competitions on four instruments. Though known primarily as a flute and banjo player, by 1996 he was playing nylon-string guitar in a style patterned in large part on Irish banjo technique and had also begun producing, a skill for which he has been in great demand as the decade comes to a close. This album opens with a straight-ahead reel entitled "The Winding Hills," on which Egan plays flute, bodhran and uilleann pipes. The next track, "Weep Not for the Memories," is startling: drums, electric guitar and electric bass play a very pretty introduction, then give way to Egan's multi-tracked flute. This one is actually the more representative of the two tracks. The rest of the album is dominated by similar fare: lush, often overproduced slow tunes with a few uptempo numbers ("Faubert's Lilt" and a nice reel set comprised of "Mason's Apron" and "My Love Is in America," for example) thrown in to keep things from getting too soporific. But pleasant as everything is, the prettiness isn't enough to overcome the stiflingly slick production and cloying sweetness of so much of the program. Let's hope this turns out to be a phase.

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