The Corrs,
(Warner, 2006)

For much of the band's professional career, the Corrs have fallen outside the bounds of "Irish pop," where they've so often been lumped, and more in the area of pop by musicians who happen to be Irish. But with Home, the family band makes a giant leap into Ireland's musical tradition without ever losing its unique pop sound.

But while the sound is pop, the music this time around is largely traditional. And the crossover works brilliantly, turning classic old Irish songs into tracks that would go over quite well on any pop music radio station or dance floor.

The band is composed of siblings Andrea (lead vocals, tin whistle), Sharon (violin, vocals), Caroline (bodhran, vocals) and Jim (guitar, keyboards). Extra layers are added by several guest musicians, including the BBC Concert Orchestra on all but two tracks.

The album was conceived as a tribute to the late Jean Corr, the siblings' mother, who was a musician and an avid collector of songs before she died in 1999.

The pleasure begins with the first track, "My Lagan Love," a traditional song that simply soars with this arrangement and Andrea's clear, sweet vocals. A trio of traditional songs revisited follows: "Spancill Hill," "Peggy Gordon" and "Black is the Colour," with "Moorlough Shore" trailing later on the album. Two old Gaelic songs are also beautifully sung: "Buachaill On Eirne" and "Brid Og Ni Mhaille." While the Corrs have never before recorded in the Irish tongue, they sound perfectly authentic -- and should consider doing it more often in the future.

For a bit of variety and danceability's sake, there's a pair of instrumental jig sets: "Old Hag" and "Haste to the Wedding." But make no mistake, the focus of this CD is the songs, particularly Andrea Corr's amazing voice.

Not all the tracks are traditional, however. Covers include "Heart Like a Wheel" by Anna McGarrigle and "Old Town" by Philip Lynott. Of special note, however, is Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day," deliciously sung by sister Sharon.

What more can I say? Traditional Irish songs given an exciting new spin by one of Ireland's top pop family bands has success written all over it. With any luck, it will bring new listeners into the traditional fold -- and will encourage the Corrs to explore more deeply their rich family legacy and national treasure.

by Tom Knapp
17 March 2006

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