This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Offering up a pleasing mix of original compositions and traditional tunes, Out of Alba's debut release "Stepping Out" is most vibrant on the instrumental cuts. The arrangements are primarily fast-paced and infectious, getting the toes a' tapping and forcing the body into motion. Combining whistle with fiddle, guitar and bodhrun in various combinations is the mainstay recipe for the Out of Alba sound.
"Stepping Out," a lively reel, opens the offerings and is complemented by the equally rowdy "The Growling Reel," "The Deadly Medley" and "Drowsy Maggie." All of these cuts showcase the animated spirit and effervescence of the band and its music at its most buoyant. "Drowsy Maggie," in particular, picks up momentum as it hurtles through the tune, ending up at near breakneck speed.
The strongest singing features Margaret Coyle on both "Sweet Does Low," an immigration song that simultaneously accomplishes an atmosphere of equal parts sweetness and sadness and "Fill Fill O'Ru'n O'," a mournful Gaelic composition that details a descent from the path of righteousness.
Jim Coyle, singing on "The Highlands" and "Out of Alba" captures the anguish and struggle in attempting to maintain cultural identities once uprooted and driven from homelands, whether it be the Scots in the highlands or American Indians. Tom Young provides a solid cover of the late Stan Rogers' lament "The Jeanie C" but lacks the robustness and presence Rogers brought to the song.
The combined cuts total over 60 minutes, with something for everyone--a mixture of reflective and spirited songs and instrumentals. This is yet another of those talented but obscure regional bands that turns out good music and is well worth a listen.
Out of Alba is comprised of Jim Coyle on guitar, vocals, mandolin, bass and whistle; Margaret Coyle on vocals, percussion and whistle; Carolyn Kelly on whistles and vocals; Alan O'Reilly on bodhruns, drums and vocals; and Tom Young on fiddle, guitar and vocals.
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