Birkin Tree

3 (Three)

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Releasing three albums in a hair over 20 years together isn't exactly prolific, but quality always counts for more than quantity, and the quality is in ample supply on this third album from Birkin Tree. It might seem odd to have Italian musicians playing Irish music, but they do it better than many artists from the Emerald Isle, bringing their own idiosyncratic touches that advance and transport the music. The sax that winds through "A Sad Night" and "Green Mountain," for example, is hardly traditional, but it works in a completely natural way, transforming both pieces and renewing them. And on "Tribute to Derek Bell" (the late Chieftains member), they add a string quartet to the proceedings, bringing the delicacy of chamber music to the tune. Throughout, the surprising touches delight and crackle with intelligence and invention. Cyril O'Donoghue guests on "The Foxy Devil" and the sublime Niamh Parsons turns "Carrickfergus" into a song that could draw tears from stone. It might have taken Birkin Tree a long time to make this record, but when it's this good, who cares?

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