Nuala Kennedy

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Nuala Kennedy's debut was a glorious piece of work from the young flute player and singer. This time around, apart from a number of Irish musicians, she's drafted in several unlikely cult names to help her out, including Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake. There are even some samples on a couple of tracks; put all this together and it's evident this isn't a standard Irish album. Kennedy is at her best on the instrumental sets, which range from the lively to the elegiac, with the opener "Footsteps" a true standout, with very sympathetic backing. She's lovely, too, on the traditional "My True Love," with its sweep of strings. Her voice, however, isn't as good as her instrumental ability, and her songwriting, while very fair, can't match the traditional pieces. That's a shame, because she does have a lot to offer. She's much better off with the old songs or those by others, such as "Little Bird." Although it does have its failings, this is a very ambitious album, and one that works, for the most part. The string arrangements bring a lot to the proceedings and show she's growing very nicely as an artist.

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