Cluan

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

Cluan

The High Road

When it comes to "jam bands," the Celts are left out, yet the proliferation of local groups such as Poor Man's Fortune, the Sarah Dinan Band, Carey Street, and the Tea Merchants is proof the genre is alive and, well, jamming. The Austin sixpiece Cluan is known for quality Irish music, but The High Road finds them journeying as far north as Scotland and across the water to Galicia. "The Blacksmith" opens the album with Erin Bobruk spinning the tale of a faithless lover. Bobruk's classically trained vocals appear hither and yon throughout, breathing freshness into favorites like "Green Grows the Laurel," "Blackwaterside," and Robert Burns' "John Anderson My Jo." Produced with a master's touch by the ever-wonderful Rich Brotherton, The High Road balances vocalized songs with jigs and reels. Cluan's musicians pull together under the leadership of bandleader/violin magician Chris Buckley, whose award-winning fiddling explodes with Irish fire on "Johnny Allen's." The thrum of Chuck Wright's bodhran and Charles Branch's bouzouki give Bobruk's mouth music perfect accompaniment on "Bímse Féin ag lascaireacht (I Myself Go Fishing)," while Ryan Beavers' guitar and Stephan Paetzold's fiddle send the sad air of "Farewell to Whisky" into jaunty rhythms of reels. At under 50 minutes, the album stops short, yet on this, their first studio CD, Cluan has done what any good band should: leave the listener dying for an encore.

***

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