The Well Below the Valley


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The Well Below the Valley Review

by James Christopher Monger

Planxty begins its remarkable sophomore release The Well Below the Valley with the pipe-led "Cunla," an engaging round sung by founder Christy Moore. Impeccably played dance tunes, soulful laments, and rollicking narratives follow, allowing listeners access to the full breadth of the group's many talents. The record's centerpiece is the eerie title track, a taut, mid-tempo dirge that's loosely based on the story of Jesus at the Well. Though traditional, the tune's incestuous overtones and dark imagery have limited its appeal to older generations of singers -- most refuse to sing it -- and defined it as the forbidden fruit of Celtic music. Andy Irvine offers up two of his finest ballads, the mournful wartime love letter "As I Roved Out" and the bittersweet "Time Will Cure Me," proving once again that his deeply expressive voice is unmatched within the genre. Moore's "As I Roved Out" -- same name, entirely different song -- is a wonderfully catchy tune anchored by Irvine's bouzouki and tin whistle that showcases Moore's tale-telling prowess. The Well Below the Valley is everything a collection of traditional music should be. With its warm and simple production and fine performances, it remains a classic that should have little problem surviving the ages.

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