A Fig for a Kiss
(Appleseed, 2002)

This is my second time reviewing a CD by Providence and I can honestly declare that they are improving with age and experience. Providence is a young band, combining the enthusiasm of youth with a genuine love of the music they perform. The new CD combines well-performed instrumental pieces -- jigs, reels and hornpipes -- with some excellent vocal tracks that are very professionally performed.

"Smuggling the Tin" is a new song to me, and Joan McDermott gives a beautiful haunting rendition. The notes tell us that this is a relatively new traditional song, which dates from the Second World War when a shortage of tin created a new smuggling trade. The writing and performance could have it located centuries ago.

Two hornpipes, "The Curlew Hills" and "Father Dollards," showcase the top-class playing of Providence. The fiddle is very reminiscent of the great Martin Hayes, which I hope the group will take as a compliment.

The ever popular "Will You Go to Flanders" gets a beautiful treatment on the album. This is one track which should be given some airplay. The familiar air combined with the sweet voice and solid backing would go a long way to promote the group and let the general public realise that traditional music is alive and well. This song is on a par with any of Eva Cassidy's songs, which Irish presenters are promoting while neglecting this great homegrown talent.

"The Providence Reel" is not a new piece by or for the group. It was a staple of the legendary cil bands of the 1960s -- The Glenside and The Kilfenora. This is lively, Irish, addictive music.

The slow air is not neglected on this album. "McDonagh's" is a very good example of the genre -- beautiful, lilting and evocative.

Like all good groups Providence do not confine themselves to Irish music. "The Jolly Young Ploughboy" is an English song of thwarted love that is then redeemed. It is new to me but I love it after a few listens. Nor do they neglect Irish songs. Joan learned one lovely track here in class in national school. In English the title is "The Cause of My Sorrow," but she sings it beautifully in Gaelic.

The liner notes give the lyrics of the songs and background to all the tunes played.

A Fig for a Kiss is a top-class CD for anyone who likes great Irish music. The combination of tracks and the production is excellent.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 26 October 2002

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