Susan McKeown

Lowlands

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Susan McKeown is an Irish folk musician with an unusually diverse resume. She has made albums of original music and albums of traditional songs, including a stunning collection of seasonal tunes entitled Through the Bitter Frost and Snow, on which the primary instruments were McKeown's voice and Lindsey Horner's string bass. She has also collaborated with numerous musicians from traditions both within and without the Celtic the world, and her music has been used in TV commercials for products as diverse as facial cream and automobiles. At this point, the only really surprising thing she could have done would have been to make a primarily traditional Irish album, which is exactly what she's done with the beautiful Lowlands. Granted, the instrumentation is frequently unusual -- on the haunting "Dark Horse on the Wind" she's accompanied by banjo and erhu (a Chinese bowed instrument), and on "Bonny Greenwoodside" she plays finger cymbals while others play the tabla and caxixis. But the songs are very definitely from the Irish tradition, and her delivery is as hair-raising as ever. Highlights include the slightly flamenco-flavored "Slan agus Beannacht (Goodbye and Farewell)" and the anguished, a capella "Dark Horse on the Wind." Highly recommended.

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