Lehto & Wright,
The Further Adventures of Darling Cory
(New Folk, 2002)

Minnesota-based Celtic rock duo Lehto & Wright does not disappoint on their second release, The Further Adventures of Darling Cory. Through 17 tracks, they show themselves to be not only talented musicians and vocalists, but also adept at rearranging traditional tunes to suit modern instrumentation. Rarely have I heard such good rearrangements of so many traditional standards. They are also songwriters, composing both instrumental and vocal tracks.

There are no fiddles or bagpipes on this record -- but it sounds like there are. Skillful use of electric and acoustic guitars, as well as mandolin, bongos (in a reworked version of Pete Seeger's classic "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy") and bass creates a rich sound that is never ordinary.

There are a few sets of upbeat tunes to get your feet tapping, all with lots of guitar. "Arthur McBride and the Seargeant" is paired with an original composition, "The Backwards Jig," and is followed by "The Raveled Hank of Yarn/The Baffled Knight." A favourite selection of mine is "The Trouble with Strings," which Steve Lehto wrote in frustration while trying to learn "The Monaghan Jig," which appears later on the record.

Each track is like a little journey -- the driving rhythm of the music makes it easy to get lost in it. This is especially true on "Bridge," where the sound of John Wright's fretless bass surrounds you.

By far the prettiest track on Darling Cory is "The Lament for Limerick." Lehto's arrangement is haunting in its simplicity. Right on its heels is a fast-paced version of the pub favourite "Nancy Whiskey."

Judging by the liner notes that accompany each track, Lehto & Wright are proud of the decibel level of the music on this record. Fortunately for us, their noise is not simply noise -- it is a fullness of sound that does justice to the tradition of the songs while redefining them. On The Further Adventures of Darling Cory, Lehto & Wright keep the spirit of traditional Celtic music alive in the richness of the music -- they've just changed all the instruments around.

- Rambles
written by Rachel Jagt
published 28 December 2002

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