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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

Culann’s Hounds

By James Rodgers
Published March 30, 2007

Year Of The Dog

You can’t tell by looking at the cover or at the band members, but Culann’s Hounds are a high-energy, extremely accomplished traditional Irish band, giving familiar tunes fresh vigor. On the eight instrumental tracks, the band shows why they’ve been compared to Solas and Dervish, and keep it from seeming like hype. But then Steve Gardner and Mike Kelleher each take a stab at vocals, coming across as graduates of the Shane MacGowan school of singing. While the vocals aren’t atrocious, they do clash with the beautiful instrumentation behind them. Vocalist Susan McKeown, who sings stunningly, is unfortunately buried in the background on two tracks, while Blues Traveler’s John Popper provides a strong argument as to why the harmonica should be an Irish traditional music instrument. On this sophomore release, Culann’s Hounds show they have what it takes to play with the big dogs, when they keep their muzzles shut.