Karan Casey

Distant Shore

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Having established herself as a marvelous traditional Irish singer, Karan Casey's decided to spread her wings and head into contemporary folk-pop. It's a good decision, as she proves to be just as adept and intimate a performer on modern material as the old songs. She's also an astute judge of songwriters, whether it's Billy Bragg's title track, a meditation on emigration, Tim O'Brien's "Another Day," or Ger Wolfe's excellent "The Curra Road." She keeps the feel loose throughout, almost like a session, but keeps herself front and center, never letting things stray too much out of focus. Her own singing is as understated as ever, letting less be a little more, giving a wonderful shine to something like "Distant Shore." There's also a very political element to her music, as she illustrates on "The Jute Mill Song" and her version of Ewan MacColl's "The Ballad of Tim Evans," an eloquent argument against the death penalty. Casey has matured, that much is obvious, and she's in the process of becoming a world-class interpreter of songs.

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