The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by David Lynch, July 13, 2007, Music

Poor Man's Fortune

In Good Time

The Tea Merchants

One Lump or Two?

Thanks to the genre's inherent camaraderie, Celtic musicians share their talents freely. Exhibit A: two branches of Austin's Celtic tree, Poor Man's Fortune and the Tea Merchants. Skilled in traditional "new world music from the old world," PMF's third album finds the Texans visiting France's western coast, Brittany, and its North American decedents. They take cameos so seriously that "Puirt a' bhèil" – something one could visualize Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard singing – is all friend-driven. Yet the trio doesn't need help; In Good Time's 10 tracks are gold (polka medley!), expertly recorded and energetically performed. Sometimes PMF stage mates, the Tea Merchants arose from the ashes of the mighty Cluan. Specializing in the lively, traditional songs your Irish granddad played generations ago, the local trio's sophomore outing proves it's far from a dusty museum piece. Check "Led Zeppelin Polkas" and "Light My Hornpipe." The half-trad, half-arranged/original tunes are well-rendered yet unfortunately not equally well-presented. Often, the driving bodhrán is muted, and the bright bouzouki remote in the mix. One Lump or Two? is a respectable calling card but not indicative of the Merchants' onstage fire.

(Poor Man's Fortune) ***

(The Tea Merchants) **

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