Across the Great Divide: Uncommon Ground (CurioMusic)

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The Patriot
 Across the Great Divide: Uncommon Ground (CurioMusic)

This mostly instrumental album which steers a path between Celtic music, its roots in Americana and more contemporary takes on those sources plays its aces in the second half, notably on pieces the delightfully airy Sleeping Tune which was originally on pipes but here translates delicately to a lute-like piece courtesy of Karen Jones's Celtic harp, and the exceptional Long She Waits written by the group's multi-instrumentalist Tony Burt (here on dobro) and this upbeat Snapper Sandwich which is full of witty twists and turns.

At these times you are transported in much the same way some of Mark Knopfler's most grounded and understated Celtic work can do.

There are astute reconsiderations of traditional Irish ballads (Raglan Road, Gander in the Pratie Hole), the marvelously evocative Scottish piece Arran Boat and even a treatment of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra's quirky Music for a Found Harmonium.

Burt is a superb writer of slightly melancholy and wistful ballads (The Patriot another standout) and while the two vocal tracks (Saints and Sinners up early, later Auld Lang Syne) add texture the real heart of this album lies in the superbly played ballads with their heart in a Celtic mist.

Across the Great Divide are a large ensemble of players – 12 are noted – and you can imagine they would hush any folk club, or bring it to its dancing feet.

They are also going out on tour and you can find details of dates and venues (and more about them here.

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