The pace throughout the record is sedate and smooth and unashamedly sentimental.
Sid Smith 2009
Conceived as a meeting point between celtic folk music and a jazz group, Carmina is the brain child of vocalist and sax player, Pippa Marland and guitarist Rob King. For their third album they've enlisted veteran of Donal Lunny, co-founder of the visionary group, Planxty, to occupy the producers chair as well as throw in some of his musical talent.
Unsurprisingly the production values are high. The record positively glitters in a gentle wash of soft-focus light with Marland’s delicate vocals particularly sparkling under Lunny's attention.
It's tempting to compare aspects of her singing with that of Clannad singer, Maire Brennan (especially Brennan's Lunny co-produced 1992 debut). However, Marland has a way of swaying into the melody which comes from her interest in jazz. That jazz-vibe undertow swells to the surface just as much as the folk feel takes to the air.
Pianist Geoff Castle (fleet-of-finger contributor to many Ian Carr's Nucleus albums) turns up and turns in a fine muscular performance on My Crescent City - a track that takes its lyrical inspiration from Philip Larkin's eulogy to Sidney Bechet.
Richie Buckley's tenor sax adds heat to the mix and his soprano playing on Twenty Three runs and dives alongside the twisting melodies stirred up by the pipes.
The pace throughout the record is sedate and smooth and, as in the case of Hungry Hill, unashamedly sentimental. When Dairmaid Moynihan's uilleann pipes kick in it's impossible not to get all dewy-eyed.
Yet Carmina's tendency to maintain an even keel across the whole album diminishes the sense of surprise and unexpected bumps in the road that you can get with both jazz and celtic music. Nevertheless Marland's voice, and the comfortable settings in which it is placed, is a nice enough place to spend some time.