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Cathie Ryan
Somewhere Along the Road

Review by Steven Stone
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Cathie Ryan Somewhere Along the Road

CD Stock Number: Shanachie Records

 

  Some voices are just right for a particular kind of music. Cathie Ryan has a vocal timbre that is so Irish it’s impossible to tell if she makes music or if the music makes her. On her third release for Shanachie records, Somewhere Along the Road, Ryan proves that she is among a select few singers who have truly mastered the art of Celtic-style vocals. No less than the Irish American News named her the Irish traditional vocalist of the decade.

Born in Detroit, which is not exactly known as a hotbed of Celtic music, Ryan was the lead singer in the group “Cherish the Ladies” for seven years before beginning her solo career. On Somewhere Along the Road Ryan is joined by master-musicians Phil Cunningham on accordion, John Doyle on guitar, Kris Drever on bass, John McCusker on fiddle and whistle, Malcom Stitt on bouzouki, and Karine Polwart, Lester Simpson, and Kate Rusby on harmony vocals. Produced by John McCusker, who also did recent albums by Kate Rusby and Eliza Carthy, the album has a warm, natural, low-key sound that focuses the attention on the singer and the song, not the production. While a majority of the songs on Somewhere Along the Road are traditional, Cathie Ryan contributes three originals and adapted the lyrics on three others. Contemporary songwriters Luka Bloom and Alan A. Bell added two more tunes to the album. To hear just what makes a song “Celtic” listen to Ryan’s version of the bluegrass staple made popular by the band Hot Rize, “High On A Mountain.” Ryan imbues it with a lilt and cadence that is the very essence of “Celtic.”

Celtic music isn’t known for guitar pyrotechnics, but John Dolye, ex-guitarist for Solas, shows why he is one of the best guitarists in the business, regardless of musical style. His rhythm chops and chordal inversions drive many of the tunes on Somewhere Along the Road. He plays left-handed, which is also rather unusual. If you want to hear more of him, his first solo album, Evening Comes Early, has just hit the streets.

The last few years have brought a veritable cornucopia of roots music to store shelves. This has been a treat for those of us who are drawn to authentic and heartfelt material. Cathie Ryan’s Somewhere Along the Road joins a short list of fine new Celtic music that deserves to be in your CD player.

 

 

Enjoyment: 85

Sound Quality: 90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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