Country Crossroads

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Tuesday August 02, 2011

From The Irish Echo

Cherish The Ladies Travel Down “Country Crossroads”
By: Earle Hitchner

Over the years there has been no shortage of Irish, country, bluegrass, or old-timey collaborative albums. They include the Brock-McGuire Band’s ‘Green Grass / Blue Grass’ (2011), Desi Wilkinson, Mairtin O’Connor, Frank Hall, and Lena Ullman’s ‘Buffalo in the Castle’ (2010), Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Crossing’ (1999) and ‘Two Journeys’ (2001), and the Chieftains’ ‘Another Country’ (1992), ‘Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions’ (2002; on it Vince Gill sings Merle Travis’s classic ‘Dark as a Dungeon’), and ‘Further Down the Old Plank Road’ (2003).

One of the world’s most astute and successful Irish traditional bandleaders, Joanie Madden was wise to follow the March 2011 silver-anniversary tour by Cherish the Ladies with a special CD. ‘Country Crossroads: The Nashville Sessions’ focuses almost wholly on a repertoire of Irish traditional and original music in the Irish idiom, and Madden made sure such guests as Vince Gill, banjoist Alison Brown, dobroist Rob Ickes (of the bluegrass band Blue Highway), and upright bass player Dennis Crouch and pump organist Jeff Taylor (both of the Time Jumpers, a Nashville-based western swing band) would blend in, not dominate. This insistence on deft integration within an Irish traditional framework makes the new album stand out.

Gill’s stellar vocal rendition of ‘Donegal Rain,’ a song co-written by Silly Wizard lead singer Andy M. Stewart and sung by him on his 1997 solo CD of the same name, is beautifully supported by Madden’s whistle and flute, Mirella Murray’s piano accordion, Kathleen Boyle’s piano, Mary Coogan’s guitar, Ickes’s dobro, Crouch’s bass, Eileen Ivers’s fiddle, and Deirdre Connolly’s high harmony.

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