One of the most gifted and adventurous musicians of her generation,
Ireland's accordionist nonpareil Sharon Shannon is well served by this
double-CD overview of her work as a solo artist and accompanist.
Stateside roots fans may know her only from her memorable
contribution to Steve Earle's "The Galway Girl" (included here), but they'll be hooked on her wide-ranging music, which embraces alt-country, reggae, Latin music, and, of course, her Irish roots. Shannon's solo work (contained on Disc 1) shows her right at home adding a jaunty solo over "Cavan Potholes," which further develops into a loping, jazz-tinged dialogue between the accordion, fiddle,
burbling electric keyboards, and robust tenor sax. Irish and Chilean
sensibilities intertwine in the decidedly south of the borderstyle ""El
Mercado Testaccio," with Shannon's lively lines sparring with guitar,
hammer dulcimer, bouzoki, and bodhran bass. Traditional Irish tunes, a Portuguese dance number, a Finnish folk tale -- there seems to be no ethnic strain Shannon and her mates haven't explored with stirring results. Disc 2 features Shannon accompanying others, including a lovely, lilting take on "Man of Constant Sorrow" by Jackson Browne; a rustic, folk-flavored "Love Love Love," with John
Prine and Mary Staunton; a country blues ballad treatment of Sam
Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," with Declan O'Rourke; and a haunting,
noir-ish rendition of Astor PIazzolla's "Libertango," with a sultry
vocal by Kirsty MacColl. Riches abound here; this will have you listening to Irish music with new ears.