Somehow, this superb Dublin-based sextet have managed to top the extraordinary achievements of their last two albums, 1990’s The Red Crow and 1992’s Harvest Storm (each winning the prestigious INDIE Award for 'Best Celtic Album of the Year.' Island Angel, the winner of Billboard’s ‘World Music Album of the Year’, is a gutsy, fiery, haunting album that refuses to coast on past plaudits, and demonstrates that Altan’s seemingly limitless potential is still being explored by the band members themselves.
Starting off with a whirlwind, three-reel set, Altan perform with equally stunning virtuosity a pair of highlands, a strathspey, a Donegal mazurka of rare vintage, three Cape Breton jigs, still more reels ("Glory Reel / The Heathery Cruach" will take the top off your head off!), and a poignant closing piece of original instrumental music from which the album takes its name. All five songs are mesmerizing, with four sung in Irish, including what will surely become two all-time Altan favorites, "Bríd Óg Ní Mhaille" (Bridget O’ Malley) and "Dúlamán." Altan’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Frankie Kennedy, Ciaran Curran, Ciaran Tourish, Dáithí Sproule, and Mark Kelly have aimed higher, reached farther, and squarely put their reputation as the premier Irish traditional ensemble today to the test. Just how brilliantly they’ve succeeded is for you to enjoy over and over again. Simply put, Island Angel is out-of-this-world beautiful.
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