Caleigh

Branching Out

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It's unusual to find an all-woman Celtic band, yet that's what Caleigh is, and quite delightfully so. This quartet hails from Bemidji, MN, where they are all alumni of Bemidji State University. Branching Out is their first venture, and some cuts are absolutely exquisite! "Mairi's Wedding" is a real instrumental standout -- this could be from the music box of the gods! While quite a few of Caleigh's selections are instrumental, sit up and take note on vocals, because when they do sing on "Feel So Near," it's quite fine -- lovely harmonies and clear, lucid lead vocals. This one definitely merits repeat play! There are places on this debut album where the band's technique still needs a bit of work. "Red Is the Rose" is just a touch choppily paced in places, though the vocals are melodic as ever. This is one cut that they might benefit by re-recording later. As a note, Mary Clancy is credited with composing the lyrics for this Irish takeoff on "Loch Lomond," so if traditionalists who prefer "Loch Lomond" want to know who to grind their teeth at, that's who. Also, while the violin verse of "Amazing Grace" added at the start of "Ashokan Farewell" does not harm it, it does not enhance it either. The track would work better with just "Ashokan Farewell" by itself. That said, please note that their version of "Ashokan Farewell" is a lovely thing, with the strings of harp and violin lilting and complimenting each other. This is so close to being superlative that if they'd just edit off "Amazing Grace" and give listeners "Ashokan Farewell" by itself, they'd have it. Just a bit more polishing will do it, and hopefully they'll develop that on their follow-up releases. In all, this is an enjoyable debut, and the occasional minor glitches are more than made up for by the balance of the work. It's an encouraging start for this promising group, and both casual listeners and fans will look forward to hearing what they will offer next.

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