On her third outing after Cherish the Ladies, Cathie Ryan throws herself and the rest of her listening public a change-up by forgoing the talents of Seamus Egan's production talents in favor of John McCusker and the studios of New York for those of the Rusby family's in Yorkshire, England. Utilizing the talents of Kate Rusby (and engineer Joe), Phil Cunningham, John Doyle, Kris Drever, Iain MacDonald, Lester Simpson, Karine Polwart, and Martin Stitt, with Michael Aaron on Hammond B-3 on Luka Bloom's "Wave up to the Shore." Ryan moves deeper into the modern folk tradition on this recording. She's less exotic in her writing and interpretation, exploring British folk as well as the more familiar haunts of her ancestral and modern Celtic lineages on tracks like "Rathlin Island (1847)" and the heartbreakingly beautiful "Somewhere Along the Road." But before any jump to the erroneous conclusion that Ryan's abandoned her rootsy Celtic trademark, one listen to the wooly and sensual "Raking and Rouging" Gaelic suite, which pairs a couple of trad tunes in a haunting, steamy tangle, or the mysterious "Tá Sé 'na Lá." The disc closes with Bloom's moving, youthful paean to the movement of nature and life (he was only 16 when he wrote it) and Alan A. Bell's truly moving "So Here's to You." On this song -- and many others here -- Ryan's voice carries within its grain all of the poetry melancholy can bear; it is lined with the hint of a hope so subtle, yet affirming, that everything in the lyric cracks, leaving only the ravaged, hunted beauty of a heart that has broken enough times that it can embrace the entire world. Such is Ryan's talent as a singer, and to create the space for that voice to lay these lyrics bare is her talent as an arranger as well. This is Ryan's finest effort yet.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek