(Erin Times, 2001)

Fonnmhor, a Michigan-based Celtic band, wastes no time in exhibiting its perfectly balanced, tightly knit sound. The opening set, "Morrison's Jig/The Morning Dew," is good, and I'm already eager to hear the rest of this self-titled debut.

The album is composed mostly of instrumental sets, spotlighting the band's deft precision. Tune sets draw heavily on both the Scottish and Irish traditions, employing traditional and modern instruments for a subtle rock sound.

There are also a few songs scattered here and there: a standard rendition of "Whiskey in the Jar" and "The Jolly Beggarman," the latter wrapped between a jig and reel, and an unusual interpretation of the Rolling Stones' classic, "The Last Time," blended with the Scots reel "Reconciliation."

This band is excellent, instrumentally, and could easily fill an entire album with nothing but highly charged tune arrangements. The first two songs serve mostly to break up the flow a little bit -- there's nothing startling or unusual there -- but the third opens up some different possibilities. I'd be very intrigued to see Fonnmhor pursue the idea further, working familiar rock songs into a mix of Celtic traditional sets.

Fonnmhor is Natalie Beversluis on fiddle and vocals, Richard Koontz on Irish flute, pennywhistle and bones, A.A. Miller on drums and percussion, Rick Stubbs on bass and percussion, and Curtis Tramel on 6- and 12-string guitars, bouzouki, cittern and vocals. Guests on the album are Pat Broaders (uilleann pipes, low whistle and vocals), Jim Cassily (egg shakers and tambourine), K.C. Cassily (foot percussion) and Don Brown (drums).

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 3 January 2004

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