(Flatfish, 2006)

Flook's musicianship flashes prism-like on the band's third studio release, Haven. Dazzling the listener with an array of often searingly beautiful tunes, it's an album that leaves you breathless in its wake! The twin flutes of Sarah Allen and Brian Finnegan, Ed Boyd's driving guitar rhythm and John Joe Kelly's powerhouse bodhran playing are embellished by superb additional instrumentation -- bass, percussion -- and lots of banjo, too. There are also lovely touches on harp, Hammond and anglo concertina.

The tunes are delicious, weaving sinuously, seducing and captivating -- Allen and Finnegan's playing brims with lyrical intensity. As a live quartet, this band plays so "tight" you'd think they were bound by some magnetic force -- this feeling is recreated here, and the additional instrumentation if anything enhances the band's essential sound.

The band constantly seeks out exciting contemporary tunes and gives them a thorough Flook makeover -- you'll find tunes here by Aidan O'Rourke, Brendan Ring, Padraig Rynne, Damien O'Kane and many more. Allen and Finnegan's original tunes dominate the album, however; vibrant, lyrical pieces including "Sleeping Tortoise," "The Asturian Way" and "Wrong Foot Forward."

The title Haven was arrived at, according to Allen, as an acknowledgement of how the band feels about their "journey" together. I spoke to Sarah recently when writing about Flook for Living Tradition Magazine, and she said, "The four of us play so interactively and intuitively together now, and the title of our new album comes from this idea -- Flook feels like a very safe place to be." Allen said the original name planned for the album was "Island" -- this evolved into Haven because it spoke more about where the band is now, a decade on.

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the finest Celtic instrumental albums to be released this year.

by Debbie Koritsas
27 May 2006

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