various artists,
Diamond Mountain Sessions presents...
(DM, 2004)

This compilation reads and sounds like a "who's who" of the contemporary, roots and traditional canon. As such, it is an introduction to new sounds and a re-discovery of old friends.

Natalie Merchant opens the proceedings with her soulful rendition of "Sally Ann." We hope that Steve Earle is not serious as he sings "Steve's Last Ramble," in case we lose this top-class writer and performer. Hidden away on the credits for the track we find Liz and Yvonne Kane on fiddles and Sharon and Mary Shannon giving able accompaniment.

A new name and voice belong to Declan O'Rourke with his own composition, "1-way Minds." The traditional "Molly Ban" is beautifully performed by Pauline Scanlon.

Sinead O'Connor gives her heartfelt version of "Paddy's Lament" sandwiched between Damien Dempsey, with his song "Apple of My Eye," and "Lose My Dress" from the pen and voice of Siobhan Parr.

One of my personal favourites here is "Love and Confusion" by Mundy. The album closes with a beautiful instrumental set from Mary Shannon playing banjo, mandola and fiddle.

This is a beautifully produced album that will cater to a varied audience. I would hope that, by rationing the skip facility of your player, you will open your mind and heart to all the genres and performers on offer.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 15 January 2005