For almost 30 years, Irish supergroup Altan has been wowing the world with their trademark combo of red-hot tune sets and mesmerizing songs from the Donegal region. The group originated in 1981, when teachers Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (fiddle and vocals) and the late Frankie Kennedy (flute) began performing as the duo that would later become Altan. What a long strange trip it’s been, including a stint with mega-label Virgin Records to their 25th anniversary project, a retrospective collection of their favorites recorded with symphonic arrangements (Previous Review).
Tuesday marked the US release of their latest, titled The Poison Glen, on the Compass label. This record marks somewhat of a return to their roots, with less of a modern production overall, and the resulting mix shows off their traditional side with wonderful effect. Quoting Ní Mhaonaigh, “We wanted to go back to the core sound, to have the sort of energy and atmosphere that we have in our live shows, with the vocals upfront and not so big production.”
The Poison Glen represents another impeccable release for Altan. Not a hint of poison to be found, in fact it’s the perfect cure for a cold rainy day. I’m sure they get plenty of those way out in Donegal.
LISTEN: The Ardara Girls/The Backdoor Highlands/Fáscadh mo Léine (The Wringing of my Shirt)/Reel in A/Ciaran Tourish’s Reel
LISTEN: Caitlín Triall