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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

KARAN CASEY

By JAMES RODGERS
Published April 19, 2006

Distant Shore
Shanachie

Karan Casey has one of the most mesmerizing voices in Celtic music. She raises traditional songs to higher standards, making contemporary tunes sound traditional. On her third solo release, Casey blends both in seamless fashion. She has invited numerous guests to back her, and the crowd (surprisingly) adds momentum to this enjoyable disc without diffusing the focus. Casey toured last year with Bluegrass stalwart Tim O’Brien; he contributes one song, plays mandolin on another and sings backing on both. Their voices entwine well - a possible future direction? Karen Matheson (lead vocalist of Capercaillie) also sings backing on two tracks, the combination again striking gold. Banjo legend Dirk Powell also appears, using his instrument to first root the music, then lift it, all the while massaging Casey’s voice. Whether singing of immigration, spurned love or wrongful death, Casey makes it all sound heavenly.