The Words That Remain

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The Words That Remain Review

by Evan Cater

The third album from the dynamic contemporary Celtic-folk band Solas is very consistent stylistically with their first two efforts, peppering traditional Irish folk songs, jigs, and reels with less conventional instrumentation. But if The Words That Remain sticks closely to the formula that brought immediate success to Solas and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, it also features a more eclectic song selection that demonstrates the flexibility of the band's distinctive sound. In addition to the expected Irish folk tunes (e.g., "I Am a Maid That Sleeps in Love" and "A Chomaraigh Aoibhinn O") there are brisk and energetic covers of Woodie Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty" and Peggy Seeger's acerbic activist ballad "Song of Choice." These songs invert the band's most significant accomplishment: having first invigorated Celtic music by adding elements of American folk and bluegrass, Solas has apparently turned to invigorating American folk by adding Celtic flair. As always, the production is slick and seamless, employing a seemingly bottomless bag of musical tricks that keep the proceedings lively and unpredictable throughout. The record also features impressive guest contributions by Canadian banjo master Bela Fleck and vocalist Iris de Ment. The Words That Remain does nothing to diminish Solas' standing, achieved within only three years of their debut, alongside the Chieftains and Altan as masters of an increasingly visible musical genre.

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