Waxies Dargle

After the Gael

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After the Gael is a competently performed Celtic folk album demonstrating the willingness of Waxies Dargle to select music that moves beyond the confines of familiar Irish standards. The band's third album finds them dabbling in American bluegrass ("The Orange Blossom Special"), Canadian folk ("Malcolm Finley's," "The Trip to Windsor," and "Willie's Trip to Toronto"), and contemporary Irish folk ("Las Vegas in the Hills of Donegal," Luka Bloom's "You Couldn't Have Come at a Better Time"). Not that there aren't plenty of traditional Irish tunes here as well. The band kicks out several old favorites like "Finnegan's Wake," "Jenny's Chickens," and "The Rocks of Brawn." The Waxies seem more in their element with the instrumental jigs and reels than with the vocal numbers. Lead singers Gerry Heaney and Mike Franks make a somewhat awkward duet out of "Finnegan's Wake," and their take on "You Couldn't Have Come..." seems overly cautious when compared to the livelier Bloom version. They fare better with the wittily infectious "Las Vegas in the Hills of Donegal./Tamlyn" and the rowsing "Going Back," yet the heart of the album is in its instrumental musicianship. Waxies Dargle lacks the polish of the genre's masters (e.g., Altan, the Chieftains), but they play with considerable skill and relish. One suspects that David Pickering-Pick's production fails to capture the electricity of the band's live performances -- a common pitfall for a genre like Celtic folk which gains so much from the enthusiasm of its audience. Despite its shortcomings, though, After the Gael is a solid piece of work from a group of professionals.

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