A Fig for a Kiss


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A Fig for a Kiss Review

by Chris Nickson

As so much Irish music loses its Irishness in the morass called Celtic, and as the urge to play faster and faster seems to be the norm, Providence offers a breath of fresh air. Their largely traditional repertoire isn't played at the speed of sound. Instead, by keeping the tempos reasonable, they offer a wonderful intertwining of fiddle, flute, and accordion that weaves a glorious tapestry of sound, as on "The Providence Reel/Roscommon Reel/Fred Finn's." It's a delight for the ear, with constant invention and a remarkable empathy between the musicians. The real joy is that they're equally good on songs, possessing one of the loveliest voices to come out of Ireland in many years with Joan McDermott, who can bring an ache to "Will Ye Go to Flanders?" and a rare joy to the happy ending of "The Jolly Young Ploughboy." Supremely confident in their individual skills, the bandmembers have no need to display them flashily, letting everything they do be in service of the tune, whether it's the sprightly hornpipes of "The Curlew Hills/Fr. Dollard's" or the graceful air of "McDonagh's." And to prove it's not a studio fluke, the last track is a live recording (made at the Scottish bar owned by Dougie Maclean) that's every bit as powerful and controlled as the rest. With this sophomore effort, Providence prove themselves to truly be the heirs of the Bothy Band and Planxty.

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