Cherish The Ladies
New Day Dawning
Green Linnet GLCD1175
review by Art Menius
Time was and not so long ago that men, mostly living in Ireland, dominated traditional Irish music. How things have changed. Fueled by immigrants and their offspring, America has become the hotbed for Irish music. Connecticut based Green Linnet has evolved into the most important recording company for all forms of Celtic music. Over the past two decades, women have likewise moved to the forefront. No ensemble better typifies these trends than Cherish the Ladies, whose third album, New Day Dawning, has just appeared on Green Linnet.
Over the past decade Cherish the Ladies, an American based, all female band, has established itself among the highest strata of traditionally-based Irish music performers. New Day Dawning, a lovely and diverse release, not only cements that status, it clears a major hurdle, proving the group can move forward despite personnel changes. Lead singer Aoife Clancy, pianist Donna Long, and Mary Rafferty on accordion make their recording debuts with Cherish the Ladies on this project. They join long time members Siobhan Egan on fiddle, mandolinist, guitarist, and banjo player Mary Coogan, and band leader Joanie Madden, simply the best Irish flutist today.
Vocally Cherish the Ladies have never sounded better. Clancy delivers an extraordinary performance on “Green Grow The Rushes On,” a quiet, airy song taken from Robert Burns that should produce airplay far outside traditional Irish circles. Clancy lends a contemporary edge to their music, producing an appealing and productive tension between modern and traditional elements in their music. Madden’s haunting flute and whistle work compliments Clancy’s singing brilliantly on all five vocal selections.
Those desiring to hear Cherish the Ladies more familiar traditional approach will not be disappointed by the eight instrumental tracks. One cannot single out particular highlights. Ever track is a delight. The five players can drive these dance tunes with aplomb, so it’s no surprise that the group carries along a pair of dancers on tour. No matter how complex and intricate their instrumental interplay, the musicians never lose sight of the melodies. They inform each piece with a joyous spirit that should appeal even to those not well versed in Gaelic musical traditions. Like all top drawer Irish players, Cherish the Ladies excels in combining tunes from sources new and old and from both sides of the Atlantic into splendid medleys.
Spirited, enchanting, and exquisite, New Day Dawning displays a major leap forward by a veteran band that has proven strong since its inception. The synergy of these six artists produces a whole much greater than its parts, and the parts are pretty remarkable on their own. New Day Dawning is simply a flawless album of modern traditional Irish music.