The Roseland Barndance
(Greentrax, 2007)

From the moment you pick up the beautifully produced gatefold package with its design and cover picture, you are entering an experience that is more than music.

NorthCregg kicks off with a spirited instrumental, "Sliabh Luachra Polkas." Then the tempo slows and Claire-Anne Lynch grabs you by the heart with a magnificent delivery of "The Dark Eyed Sailor" that has just the exact amount of musical backing from the other group members. That voice would drown any sailor.

The title track lives up to its name as it invites you to the floor for a nice gentle dance, gradually increasing the tempo as your toes tap, head swims and heart beats faster.

It is wonderful to hear a version of an old song that makes it new without destroying the original. NorthCregg achieves this on the perennial favourite "Barbara Allen." This gentle, almost lullaby rendition is given great depth with a lovely instrumental bridge.

The lovely tinkling piano on the first of the set "Earl Mitten's" will put you in good humour no matter how down you feel. Then you will be whisked out of your chair for the second section, adapted from a French-Canadian reel.

The mixture of vocal and instrumental is just right on this album and I love the title of track nine, "I'd Rather Be Married than Left," a set of four slides.

Annie Briggs has had some exposure in recent months with television histories of British and Irish folk music. In her short performing career she wrote some lovely songs, and one of them is featured here called "Go Your Way." "Crehan's Reels" close the barndance in style and will send them home sweatin' better than any showband.

This is a great album out of Ireland on a Scottish label for an international audience.

by Nicky Rossiter
12 May 2007

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