The Friel Sisters: Before The Sun – Glasgow girls let their Donegal roots shine

Before The Sun
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Artist: The Friel Sisters
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent Release

Surprises lurk around every corner in The Friel Sisters' second album, Before The Sun. It's album is packed with tunes rooted in Donegal and Scotland. Clare, Sheila and Anna Friel (Glaswegian sisters of Donegal parentage) share a keen wit and lightness of being. Their tune pairings and quirky versions are carefully curated by producer Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, and recorded by Jack Talty, who provides delicate oversight.

There's untold delight in hearing An Coolin March, a roustabout interpretation of the well-loved slow air, An Chúilfhoinn, based on an apocryphal tale concerning the Donegal fiddle player John Doherty and his need to rev up the tune in advance of a fast-approaching bus.

Clare, this year's TG4 Young Traditional Musician of the Year, soars across the solo fiddle set McCahill's/The Pigeon at the Gate, her fleet-footed playing propelling the tunes skywards. Sheila invigorates the slow air associated with Seamus Ennis, Easter Snow, with a sensitive interpretation in voice and on pipes. And Anna's take on Kelvin's Purling Stream is as unforced and intimate as is the three sisters' harmony singing on Free & Easy.

A rounded collection laden with riches.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

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