Sharon Shannon & Friends
The Diamond Mountain Sessions
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: Compass Records 7 4305 2
Accordions are almost as popular in my neck of the woods as banjos. If someone shows up at an acoustic jam with an accordion case in hand, as soon as they crack it open all the players in the room take a cigarette break, including the ones who've just quit smoking. If, however, the accordion player were Sharon Shannon they would have made a major mistake in beating such a hasty retreat. She is not only the recent recipient of Ireland's "Folk Artist of The Year", but "Best Traditional Female" according to
Irish Music Magazine. In Ireland The Diamond Mountain Sessions has achieved triple platinum status.
Sharon is known as an instrumentalist and she doesn't sing a lick, so when faced with the challenge of doing an album of songs she enlisted some help from her friends. In this case these friends included Steve Earle, John
Prine, Jackson Browne, Donal Lunny, John Hoban, Dessie O'Halloran, and Mary
Stuanton. The core band, The Woodchoppers, consisted of Sharon's sister Mary, James Delaney, Lloyd Byrne, Tom Malloy, and Jim Murray. Much of the recording was done in
Letterfrack, an old former monastery in Connemara, Ireland. All the performers stayed there while working on the album. The result is a selection of songs that show off Sharon's traditional Irish style. Steve Earle's "Galway Girl" works especially well when given the full traditional treatment. "Man of Constant Sorrow" sung by Jackson Browne also sounds both haunting and fresh. If you want to hear what Irish folks listen to when they want to hear Irish music, slap this on your CD player. It's as bracing as a wee dram of single malt whisky.
Sound Quality: 90