Exiles Return

Karan Casey / John Doyle

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Exiles Return Review

by Chris Nickson

It's been a long time since Karan Casey and John Doyle played together in Solas. Now with both very much at the top of their game, the idea of a duet album seems like a no-brainer. It's certainly one of the loveliest Irish albums to come down the pike in a long while. Casey is a mesmerizing singer, full of delicacy on "Out of the Window" (a variant on "She Moved Through the Fair") and "The Flowers of Finae," and gleeful on the girl-dressed-as-soldier tale of "The Little Drummer Girl." Although Doyle doesn't show off his fretboard skills more than necessary, he's powerful on all things plucked, and demonstrates how his voice has improved over the years on the lovely "Sally Grier." A number of the songs deal with emigration, not just because it's an important part of the Irish tradition, but also part of the experience of both these artists. "The Shipyard Slips," "Sailing Off to the Yankee Land," "The False Lady," and more explore the theme lovingly. Two other musicians are featured, Dirk Powell on bass and (very sparingly) banjo, and Michael McGoldrick on flute and whistle. Thankfully, their contributions, wonder as they might be, are sparse, keeping the focus firmly on Doyle and Casey, who hold it gently, the pair working exceptionally well together. A glorious disc that exceeds every high expectation.

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