Tamalin

Rhythm & Rhyme

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AllMusic Review by

The Tina McSherry comparisons are inevitable -- a dollop of Eddi Reader, a pinch of Suzanne Vega, and just a sprinkle of Sinead O'Connor -- but aside from those fortuitous similarities, Tamalin is quite unique. From Belfast, this young familial group benefits, presumably, from years of playing together. Tamalin is the McSherry family: John on pipes and whistle, Joanne on fiddle, Paul on guitar and dobro, and Tina on vocals and flute, along with Kevin Dorris on bouzouki. Their music lies somewhere between traditional and Celtic-rock (progressive traditional?), and it's characterized by catchy chord progressions, creative rhythm changes, and a complementary (almost innate) balance among instruments. They are all accomplished musicians who get to show their stuff, not with extended solos but by acutely playing off of one another, making their mark within the framework of a well-structured song. John McSherry, for instance, provides some sizzling piping on the instrumental "Tempest," which clearly displays his talents. Perhaps his most tasteful playing, however, is found in the more subtle accompaniment role; when he and Joanne McSherry get cooking on "Reaping the Rye," it's difficult to differentiate between the fiddle and pipes -- such is the level of their interaction with one another. Joanne and Paul McSherry add a spicy Middle Eastern riff to the title cut, which makes one wonder where this album is headed: nowhere in particular but everywhere in general. They even give Led Zeppelin a run for their money on "Poor Tom." The picking may not be as pronounced as some less secure musicians in Kevin and Paul's shoes would have it, but listen closely -- they deliver in virtually every selection. And Tina McSherry's voice? It's like butter.

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