Friday, 6 February 2009

“Hill Of Thieves” by CARA DILLON. A Review of the January 2009 Folk CD.


"...His Children Came Around Him With Their Verses And Their Stories
Their Verses And Stories - To Drive Cares Away..."

I'll throw in my Dublin/Irish tuppence worth and say that this is a truly gorgeous album - probably one of the loveliest listens I've had pass by my weary ears in yonks.

I've been aware of Northern Ireland’s Cara Dillon (she's from Dungiven in County Derry) for some time now. On her lovely "Cara Dillon" debut album in 2001, she did a cover version of a particular favourite of mine - "Black Is The Colour". It was a piano-led/guitar folk take on the famous ballad and it was brilliant. And that delicate as silk voice too - I thought - now here's a talent.

With "Hill Of Thieves" she realizes all of that potential. She also settles down and goes for the full-on-folk album - and like Kate Rusby - or even Andrea Corr - she knocks you sideways with the beauty of her voice and the clever choices of interpreted Traditional Airs (all bar the opener "Hill Of Thieves" are Traditional Songs arranged and interpreted by both Cara Dillon and her husband/keyboardist Sam Lakeman).

Another fave of mine is "Spencer The Rover", which I first heard covered by JOHN MARTYN on his wonderful "Sunday's Child" album on Island in early 1975 (lyrics above). Cara Dillon does a very different take on it, and for me it's 'the' highlight on here. With his tragic loss still fresh in our minds, I think Iain David McGeachy would give this version a great big Scottish nod - it's gorgeous - it really, really is.

Also worth nothing is that while Sam Lakeman plays on all the tracks and co-arranges all the songs; SETH LAKEMAN duets with her on "Spencer" - and also plays Tenor Guitar and fiddle on the tune. And that would be my only complaint about the album - is that when Dillon and Seth Lakeman duet - there's a perfect harmony magic that takes place - and I only wish there was more of it on here. Only on the one track I'm afraid.

Cara also does a serenely peaceful version of the Londonderry Air "She Moved Through The Fair" while "Jimmy Mo Mile Stor" sounds like a great Planxty/Bothy Band reel - with perfectly complimentary Flutes and Uileann Pipes. Made me tingle and think of home.

If you're new to the lady and her gentle magic, then prepare to punish that credit-crunched plastic of yours again in the next few weeks - because you'll want every album she's ever done after buying this...

Lovely stuff.

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