To some people, Nashville might seem an unlikely place to record a Celtic-oriented album, but in fact, it makes perfect sense. Nashville, where Celtic-oriented fiddler Cady Finlayson recorded Shines Like Silver, is the capitol of country music, and country -- like bluegrass and Anglo-American folk -- is a descendent of the music that immigrants from the British Isles brought to the United States long ago. This instrumental CD does not get into country; however, Finlayson does make some occasional detours into American folk. And because Finlayson is obviously well aware of the creative debt that American folk owes to Celtic forms, she has no problem giving Shines Like Silver a certain continuity. Many of the traditional jigs and reels that Finlayson embraces were written in Ireland; anyone who is seriously into traditional Irish-Celtic music has likely heard "Paddy Ryan's Dream" and "Planty Irwin" (which is among the hundreds of tunes that was written by Turlough O'Carolan, a legendary harpist who lived from 1670-1738). But she fares equally well on American folk staples such as "This Old Hammer," "Off to California," and "Bright Morning Star." The interesting thing is that when Finlayson tackles American material, she doesn't necessarily perform them in a traditionally American way -- the Irish-Celtic mindset doesn't go away when she arranges American songs. And even though the fiddler has an Irish-Celtic orientation, she isn't oblivious to the Scottish school of Celtic music. "Hector the Hero" was written by Scottish fiddler Scott Skinner, and "For Ireland" finds Finlayson employing East Coast musician Kevin Ryan on bagpipes (an instrument that is generally associated with Scottish-Celtic music more than Irish-Celtic music). Because of the American folk influences, this CD may not appeal to Celtic purists who like a totally traditional approach. But those who are seeking something fresh and interesting from Celtic music will find that Shines Like Silver offers considerable rewards.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson