Sharon Shannon - Sacred Earth album review: Too many styles spoil the tunes

Sacred Earth
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Artist: Sharon Shannon
Genre: Traditional
Label: Celtic Collections

There's no doubting Sharon Shannon's desire for wide open musical vistas. Her penchant for tango, reggae and blues is evident on her past recordings, and in Sacred Earth she mines a multitude of seams, extending her reach to embrace African influences in particular. The result is an ill-defined and confused collection, laden down by lumbering percussion.

Shannon's great strength is her innate feel for a tune, and there are a few standout tunes here (such as Bas Pelles). But Finbar Furey's guest vocals on He'll Have to Go suffer from ill-phrasing and pedestrian arrangements, while the rap reggae vocals on The Machine are positively jarring.

Shannon's cover of the Canadian fiddle tune Frenchie's Reel, as well as The Merry Widow (from Franz Lehár's operetta) are both jewels that struggle for attention in the foggy mix.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts