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Clannad - Dúlamán CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.77 | 15 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
5 stars On the cusp of embarking on a professional music career, CLANNAD's third album combines the best aspects of their debut and Clannad 2, which bubbles up an alchemy of "trad, arr" as never seen prior or since. In typical Clannad fashion, it's hard to determine just how they attain the achievement, for nothing here, taken on its own, is more than a variant shade on other Celtic folk, but the difference is no less striking than those two sibling color swatches placed side by side, one a perfect complement to your music room, the other not fit for the bathroom of a man cave.

The jazzy aspects of the first album have returned but are much more integrated into the whole, suffusing the stunning title cut, the shapeshifting "Éirigh Is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh Cóiriu", and the similar almost hard rocking "Mo Mháire", in which the flute steps into the shoes of a lead guitar and stretches them silly. Along the way, the listener is rewarded with the jauntily macabre "Two Sisters", much covered but endowed with the distinct family traits, and the even more oft reprised morose ballad "Siúil A Rún", leaving one to wonder if Irish balladry doesn't mine a distinct proggy vein or if it isn't just the work of these wizards.

The last two cuts warrant their own inset. First the brief acapella "dTigeas A Damhsa" sounds like vocalise, an acid folk forerunner to MANHATTAN TRANSFER, busting out of its 90 second cast right into one of the most enduring finales imaginable, in two flute led parts. The first, "Cucanandy", is a slip jig whose melody oddly reprises the prior song, accompanied by harp (or perhaps it's an electric piano or both?). The bridge between it and the well known "Jug of Brown Ale", is a single line constituting the only vocals on the track, and my barely nascent Gaelic tells me Prince Phillip might be mentioned. The last two minutes are sheer joy, the band busting out as much as they ever do, but don't bother jacking up the volume. Instead try simmering yourself down and savoring it.

In my opinion "Dulaman" is the pinnacle of not only CLANNAD's early career but of the Irish folk movement up to that time. It's a work of genius that, with the turn of phrase and a couple of deft side steps, caresses away the seaweed from a genre too often stagnating at low tide.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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