Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill,
The Lonesome Touch
(Green Linnet, 1997)

Feeling depressed, downhearted, lonely? Want someone to speak gently to our fears and despair, to sympathize? If so, the people to turn to are fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill.

This collection of slow jigs and reels is refreshingly different than your average Celtic music collection. It definitely is not a dance-along collection. The duo plays each piece with thoughtful reserve, rather than vivacious energy. Although it can be highly disconcerting to hear familiar tunes played at such different paces, it can also be quite revealing. New faces to the music can be seen, reflecting the tunes in a whole new light.

Martin Hayes shows his greatest skill on this recording. The complex nuances he exhibits in his gentle playing can lead the spirit on a roller coaster ride of joy and despair. The life he can give to one single note is beyond comprehension. Drawing emotion from his notes with each stroke of the bow, Hayes is a magician with his fiddle. He is well-matched with his long-time musical partner Dennis Cahill, who skillfully matches tone and temperament with his guitar accompaniment.

Despite the amazing depth and complexity displayed in the impeccable playing of Hayes and Cahill, this recording has a bit too much of a mellow consistency for my taste. The reels lack fire; there's no desire to dance or tap your foot. Although it would be wonderful for relaxation music, it lacks the variety it needs to stand up as solid listening music on its own. I think I will pair it and The Pipers Muse together in my CD player on random play and see if that evens the temperments of the two.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

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