Cathy Jordan

All the Way Home

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Singer Cathy Jordan is best known to Celtic music fans for her work with Dervish; All the Way Home is her solo debut, and it's a quiet wonder of an album. Those familiar with the Blix Street label (home to international superstar Mary Black) will probably expect to hear a sound that blends two parts traditional Irish music with one part pop-wise slickness, but what's on offer here is much more subtle than that, though no less accessible and pretty. Jordan's arrangements are sometimes downright counterintuitive: notice how sad and quiet her rendition of the defiant rebel song "The Bold Fenian Men" is, and in fact how very few examples of rollicking party tunes there are on the program (there are two: a midtempo jig written for the project by Jordan's collaborator Roger Tallroth, and a romantic romp titled "Ould Ballymore"). Even more interesting is the arrangement of "Eileen McMahon," on which Jordan is joined by the brilliant folk-pop singer Eddi Reader: listen carefully and you'll hear a chugging fingerpicked banjo, lap steel, a very sporadic string bass part, and something that sounds like guitar strings being struck behind the nut, near the tuning pegs, but is probably actually a Swedish nyckelharpa. The genius of this arrangement is that none of these elements sounds at all weird unless you stop and pay close attention; together they blend into a completely organic and natural-sounding whole, and they perfectly complement Jordan's strong, supple voice. It's a perfect moment on a startlingly wonderful album.

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