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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

CATHIE RYAN

By Marty Lipp
Published September 22, 2005

The Farthest Wave
Shanachie

Unfortunately, the word “butter” has been co-opted by comedian Mike Myers, so another word will have to do for describing Cathie Ryan’s gorgeous voice. Certainly it has the smooth, lustrous feel of any number of dairy products—it’s rich, creamy, with substantial body. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but a great voice can turn words into pictures. The U.S.-based singer does a fine job polishing the softer, slower, more feminine side of Irish music, but she is no strict traditionalist. She effortlessly moves the genre toward its distant cousin, American country music, specifically the folky subspecies popularized by singers such as Emmylou Harris with songs such as the traditional “Rough And Rocky.” Ryan, formerly of the band Cherish the Ladies, burnishes her tunes with light daubs of acoustic instrumentation to accompany her singing. Generally, the album is soft and quiet, with a few sprightlier tunes when John Doyle’s rhythm guitar evokes the early sound of Solas. Still, while the album is of dusky hues, it steers clear of maudlin sentiment and, while not for everyone, it is a lovely, poignant set of songs.