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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

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Solas
For Love And Laughter
Compass

By Marty Lipp

Published October 21, 2008

When this Irish-American group debuted in the early '90s, it was routinely called a "super-group" because of its union of stellar performers. Over the years, Solas has had a changing roster around a core of multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan and his wife and musical partner, violinist Winifred Horan. On the group's latest, newcomer Mairead Phelan's sweet, feathery voice gives them a sound that, at times, seems right at home on their Nashville-based label, Compass, which features several performers who are creating an alt-country sound that evokes a gentler, rootsy, pre-rock era. Though Phelan does not sing with the stunning depth of original singer Karan Casey, this is still not superficial pop music, with Egan's masterful touch elevating several gorgeous songs. The ensemble whips up the dust on a few sets of traditional reels and jigs, though the album skews more toward the middle of the speed spectrum on easy-going songs such as the title cut and "The Merry Go Round."

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