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Clannad - Fuaim CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.56 | 10 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
5 stars Before producer Nicky Ryan and his protege ENYA parted ways with CLANNAD, they played a major role in "Fuaim", which is both far more energetic and, paradoxically, more atmospheric than its predecessor, the somewhat lackluster "Cran Ull". It could be argued that they helped Clannad steer a course towards a new age sound from which Enya would later borrow and earn millions , but that's for another day, because on this day CLANNAD comes as close to lively Irish folk as they ever have.

Even the simple intro to "Na Buachaillí Álainn" portends an awareness that a new sound needs an entrance, especially one that sings about beautiful lads, and the strummed accompaniment to the sisters' tandem attack on vocals form the perfect opener. The next track is sung by one of the gentleman, and well, backed by Maire and Enya, and translates to "She enticed me with her voice". It's more adventurous, with a superb melody, a kind of "slow swing", with a very creative break enhanced by guest artists on clarinet and lead guitar solos.

A couple of significant breakthroughs: Enya sings lead on two tracks, "An Túll", which showcases her airier voice and playful electric piano, and the jazzy closer "Buaireadh An Phósta". "Ní Lá Na Gaoithe Lá Na Scoilb?" is their most progressive and rocking tune to that point. From its ambient beginning with keyboards, strummed guitars and brief chant like vocals, it transforms into an extended jam led by saxophone which briefly cedes to flute before returning and working itself up into a crescendo, It's like a shaking off the cobwebs type of piece that 1990s Clannad would have done well to emulate.

Even the more traditional sounding tunes cannot be ignored - "Mhórag 'S Na Horo Gheallaidh" is mostly acapella but includes subtle organ accompaniment, and "The Green Fields Of Gaothdobhair" imparts a spacey vibe where whistle and synthesizer meet, which would become more common in the group's arrangements as the decade neared its midpoint. "Strayed Away" and "Lish Young Buy a Broom" both flash a playful side, particularly the latter, a drinking song by Clannad!

With "Fuaim", we see Clannad advancing the transformation that began with "Cran Ull", evolving from a trad Celtic folk group into a unique proponent of progressive folk 1980s style, but before adopting many of the period arrangements that would diminish a few of the subsequent albums. Hence "Fuaim" is a best of breed transitional album that establishes a sound as precocious as it is new.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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