A La Cut
(Mecki, 2001)

Ballycotton has already gotten its share of accolades on this site with reviews of the band's 1997 and 2003 CDs. So I was listening to A La Cut, from 2001, more for pleasure than review purposes. But when I glanced up from my work to see my 10-year-old gypsy daughter dancing wildly and completely unselfconsciously in the doorway, I thought it would be a disservice not to share the excitement this band creates.

Based in Austria and rooted in a mixture of Celtic and mainland European traditions, Ballycotton doesn't hold back, either -- while not all of the tunes are at a breakneck pace, all convey a sense of excitement and energy that is just on the edge of breaking free of all restraint and ... well, demanding that everyone, not just little girls, dance.

The band features the work of Christina on violin, Alex on guitars, mandolin, banjo and bouzouki, Jock on fiddle, mandolin, banjo and whistles, Andi on guitar and bass, and Harry on percussion. Don't ask me why the band chose the anonymity of first names only on this recording -- their full names are easily found on other albums as well as their website -- but I'll respect the conceit here. They've also written pretty much everything you'll find on this CD, although a great deal of it sounds like a close cousin of traditional tunes ramped up with artful and lively arrangements.

I've really enjoyed this flashback to when I first listened to A La Cut more than a half-decade ago, and I think I'll also dig out the band's other recordings to extend the experience. It also makes me wonder what Ballycotton has been up to in the interim; perhaps I'll find a new treasure in the mailbox someday soon!

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review by
Tom Knapp

23 February 2008

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