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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh MY! This is destined to be a classic!
This is an amazing album from Cara Dillon, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves great singing. I was fortunate to acquire it during the fall tour, and I've been playing over and over since then. Cara Dillon is one of the greatest singers that I've ever heard, period. This year of 2008 has been a great one for fans of Cara Dillon with extensive touring and the...
Published on 27 Dec 2008 by Sierra Nevada

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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hill of Thieves
Cara Dillon has a beautiful voice, especially in the top register and she conveys emotion without a doubt. However this is not a strong album: there's an over-reliance on piano (Sam Lakeman) which verges on the indulgent. Cara Dillon is a wonderful singer and performer but she would be well advised to break away from the Lakeman influence to progress her career.
Published on 14 April 2009 by Mr. Richard S. Keys


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh MY! This is destined to be a classic!, 27 Dec 2008
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
This is an amazing album from Cara Dillon, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves great singing. I was fortunate to acquire it during the fall tour, and I've been playing over and over since then. Cara Dillon is one of the greatest singers that I've ever heard, period. This year of 2008 has been a great one for fans of Cara Dillon with extensive touring and the release of the the REDCASTLE SESSIONS DVD (which I HIGHLY recommend, by the way Cara Dillon - The Redcastle Sessions). Cara opens 2009 with a gem of an album. And she did all this with wee twin boys to look after!

HILL OF THIEVES is a brilliant album right from the opening title track, an original song by Cara Dillon and husband Sam Lakeman with a killer riff on low whistle that somehow manages to fit perfectly with the other songs, which are traditional. The magic of this album comes of course from Cara's singing, but also from the outstanding supporting musicians and, very importantly, the superb way in which these songs are arranged by the husband and wife team of Lakeman/Dillon. Their work makes these traditional songs so 'immediate' and 'contemporary' while preserving their timelessness. The very catchy "Spencer the Rover" is a noteworthy example of this, plus the harmonies between Cara and brother-in-law Seth Lakeman are jaw-dropping! Cara's beautiful singing to Sam Lakeman's excellent piano accompaniment in the haunting "She Moved Through The Fair" and the resplendent "The Verdant Braes of Skreen" give me goosebumps (and sometimes misty eyes). Cara's songs of emigration always get to my emotions, and "The Parting Glass" - a song that's over 300 years old - is so heartbreakingly performed. "False, False" is another favourite; I just cannot imagine a song being sung more perfectly in both technique and emotion. Cara and company also give us great craic in the upbeat "Johnny, Lovely Johnny"; "Jimmy Mó Mhíle Stór"; and "P Stands for Paddy" which give the album an emotional breadth.

I think this is going to be a classic! You will NOT regret purchasing this album.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dillon reaches her artistic mastery, 14 Dec 2008
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
After five years experimenting with top rock and pop producers, engineers and songwriters for Warner Music, and six years of carving herself out as a Folk/Pop crossover artist with indie label Rough Trade, Cara Dillon has landed with her seminal recording, 'Hill Of Thieves'.

Having watched this artist with interest over the past couple of years, I was interested to see where exactly she was going to go from 2006's hopeful, genre hopping 'After The Morning'. Label letdowns and a lacklustre promotional campaign hindered this record's success, leaving it with an ill-deserved fate as one of those albums that Could Have Been Big.

Dillon and her musical partner and husband Sam Lakeman, let down one too many times by industry promises, clearly spent the next couple of years rethinking things and cutting free completely. Now in the driver's seat (on her own label, Charcoal Records), Cara Dillon emerges as a master of her genre with this sublime effort.

Each of the eleven songs seem at home in their sonic surroundings - whether this be on a bed of many layers of acoustic guitar (The Hill Of Thieves), between a haunting vocal and harmonic piano overtones (The Parting Glass), or carved out of the silence, acapella (Fil, Fil A Run O). Lakeman's confidence and astute judgement as a producer must not go unnoticed here.

Guest vocalist Seth Lakeman is sure to generate extra interest in the album, and he is careful here to duet with his sister-in-law, rather than compete with her, as he seemed to do when part of her live band six years previous. The result of this vocal partnership is the wonderful Spencer The Rover.

On finer examinations, slight flaws come to the fore - Jimmy Mo Mhile Stor suffers slightly from overproduction, with an overdose of guitars and mandolin, an intro that recalls the opening of a cheesy children's animation, and harmonies that seem somewhat superfluous. However, there's no denying the interpretation is both cool and relevant, and might have been masterful with the backing of simply one guitar.

That being said, this is an album of hits, if traditional songs can be named so. The musicianship is superb, the vocal performance second to none, and above all, the sentiment is heartening: music existed before the industry machine, and as the machine presently crumbles amid the growth of new media technology, real, organic music will survive in this timeless, undated form.

The album highlight is undoubtedly The Parting Glass, a reading of an old favourite which has to be heard to be believed. It will now go into the vault with Black Is The Colour and The Streets Of Derry as traditional songs Dillon has rendered untouchable. (Well, that is pretty much a wholly subjective statement, yet I had to say it all the same.)

On a final note, the album obviously attempts to awaken some nostalgia for the golden age of Irish folk in the 1970s, with bouzouki/guitar/pipes collaborations to rival the work of Planxty or the legendary pairing of Paul Brady and Andy Irvine. When the album is released in January 2009 it will be down to the folk music community to decide whether the album has some of the magic of those which inspired it or whether it comes off as a sentimental and pale imitation, though I doubt that anyone will settle for the latter.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cara Dillon in sparkling form, 8 Dec 2008
By 
yarnspinner (Coleraine, N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
I bought this (pre-release) CD at a Cara Dillon concert in October and it's really superb. The title song is co-written by Cara and Sam Lakeman,all other tracks are traditional songs arranged by Cara and Sam. My favourite track is Spencer the Rover,but all are excellent - so much so that I've been playing it daily.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cara and Sam excel with this Album, 2 Jan 2009
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
I concur with the many detailed and positive responses in the other reviews on here about Cara and her husband Sam's beautifully executed album "Hill of Thieves". What may be a surprise is how many reviews there are for an album not on general release, but I bought five signed copies at a wonderful Cara Concert in Tunbridge Wells, back in November 2008, two of these crossed the Atlantic to New York and California, one went in the opposite direction to Germany and another to a mate in Uckfield, for his mother's Christmas Present. I know that two signed albums bought in California headed to Italy and England, so the word has got about just how very excellent this album really is, from Cara devotees that know her work, from Mike Harding on Radio 2 who loves this album to bits and soon all you lucky people out there will be able to buy the "Hill of Thieves" album and discover that we were all not exaggerating one little bit. Personally, my favourite track is "The Verdant Braes of Skreen" and you can check out my video of a superb live performance on YouTube, that two months on still sends tingles up my spine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and haunting, 4 Nov 2009
By 
Amazon Customer (cheltenham, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
Cara Dillon's fourth solo album represents something of a departure from her previous release. Gone are much of the glossy production and full band sound. Following an extended break to care for her prematurely-born twins, Cara has returned with a quieter record, comprised mainly of traditional songs, with a more distinctly Irish sound than before.

It goes without saying that Cara's voice is as beautiful as ever. It is no surprise that this is a collection of beautiful arrangements. "The Parting Glass" and "False, False" have surely never sounded better or more haunting. It did seem a little muted on early listens but repeated hearings reveal a fragility and stillness that is genuinely affecting.

I'm not saying that I would wish all Cara's albums to sound like this- overall I perhaps prefer the variety of After the Morning- but this is a rewarding album of beautiful traditional tunes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely beautiful stuff., 22 Jun 2010
By 
Curlynob (Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
Although I've got quite a lot of folk and traditional music, this is my first Cara Dillon album. I only really became aware of her when a flyer was put through my door to inform me that she was playing at a local music festival - I thought it would be rude not to find out more. Anyway I popped onto the internet for a listen and promptly ordered myself a copy. Seldom have I heard such a clear and beautiful voice. With very little in the way of percussion, bass or backing vocals to distract, Cara's vocals are allowed to take centre stage throughout the entire album. Virtually all of the songs are traditional, with only the first track being an entirely original composition. Having said that the arrangements are not too traditional to put non folkies off, and if you were looking to start your folk music collection, I can't think of a better place to start than here.

Worthy of mention is a frankly stunning version of The Parting Glass - which may bring a tear to the eye of even the coldest hearts. Seth Lakeman joins in for backing vocals on Spencer the Rover and Sam Lakeman's piano playing throughout is beautifully moderated. Also worthy of note is Track 7, She Moved Through the Fair which listeners might recognise as the traditional song behind Belfast Child by Simple Minds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Cheers from a Yank, 8 May 2010
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
I hope you guys don't mind a few words from a Cara Dillon fan in the States. I heard a song by Cara about a year ago on the radio. It was filler music on a talk radio program, the Dennis Miller Show I think. Not sure. I remember sitting here mesmerized. They didn't give her name so I had to write in and beg them to tell me who it was. Since then I have purchased every CD that Cara has produced and faithfully followed her developing career. Apart from her beautiful voice, what strikes me about Cara Dillon is the integrity of her music. That shows in her selection of music, as well as in her deliberate flight from the established marketing channels and companies. Hill of Thieves is her best collection so far, though you would have to use force to part me from any of her CDs. The Parting Glass is probably my favorite in this collection, though the acapella "Fil,Fil a Run O" still makes my heart skip a beat after hearing it many, many times now. I am proud to be an American, but it does sadden me that we in this country cannot produce anything close to Cara. I for one am thankful that there is an Ireland, and that it gave heart and soul to this beautiful young woman. If she were the only thing I knew of Ireland, I would love the country well! I do hope that Cara and Sam know how much joy they have brought to fans, some even as far away as Virginia in the USA. I doubt that I will ever be able to see them in person, but if any of you have the chance, do please tell them that they have friends in the States who love what they are doing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish and Irish contemporary Folk music, 7 Mar 2010
By 
F. Fraser (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
This is the 3rd album I have of Ms Dillon singing in her pure and unique style.
All are fabulous and none had I heard before acquisition.
In truth, none was a disappointment and in fact quite the opposite.
Hill of Thieves is one I could listen to over, and over, and....need I say more?
Some of the songs have been recorded by other artists such as Rod Paterson of
the Easy Club who sings 'False,False' beautifully, and Cara Dillon gives it equal
respect with her own touch, in similar style to his, bar the 'broad Scots' of course!
Fantastic album and not one to be missed from your collection!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If this is theft - then who is original?, 12 Mar 2009
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
Cara's last album Into The Morning pulled three ways. The question was, which of those paths would she head down next time around? Would she breeze down the folk-tinged-pop highway? Would she rest in the valley of traditional song awhile? Or would she take the road less travelled and develop her song writing against husband Sam's sparse but perfectly poised accompaniments?

The good news is that she has abandoned the first of those routes. There is nothing that could be confused with the Corrs here. Never In A Million Years.

At first glance she has taken route two. 10 of 11 songs here are traditional. But it doesn't take much of a listen to what she and husband Sam have done with them, to realise that they have made an intensely personal and original album. They have taken 10 traditional songs, and made them their own.

This isn't just a case of Cara singing these songs from the heart, although she does that. The partnership of Cara and husband Sam is an equal music. These performances would be nothing without his unique way of stripping down a song to it's simplest skein of melody, then reassembling it with amazing poise and clarity.

Such is their achievement that the one completely self penned number here - the opening `Hill of Thieves' - a great song in its own right - does not stand out.

Second Song `Johnny, Lovely Johnny' is perfectly presented, but lacks that edge, that focus, that sets their best arrangements apart.

But then come three songs that show two masters at work. We know that Cara can do yearning, and weariness. But did we know that she could do them like she does them on `The Parting Glass' ? Just listen to the way she savours `All the sweethearts', pauses momentarily - continues - `that ere', - little stumble - I've had'. This is beyond making a song personal. Cara and Sam are like thieves, that having been caught with a precious artwork, point to the edge of the canvas - where their names are written, with a layer of dust ground into them.

And things get better. They take John Martyn's hazy eyed version of Spencer the Rover and turn it inside out. They replace his introverted dreaming with bold arcs of melody, and turn it into a real anthem to roving and returning. They have created this huge spaciousness before, most effectively with `Bonnie Bonnie' on their Sweet Liberty album. I cannot help thinking that Cara and Sam could give us a new musical genre - `Stadium Folk', where the expansive passion of U2's Where The Streets Have No Names' strides across the wilds of the western shores of the British Isles.

To some people Cara's voice is nice, lovely even - but too sweet, not enough meat. They have been looking at what she doesn't have, and ignoring what she has in spades. When she sings she gives voice to three ages of woman at the same time. There is the young woman, but also a child to one side of her, and a weary older soul to the other. These three voices singing as one on False, False make it absolutely devastating. No longer is this just a song about the betrayal of an adult. When Cara sings it is as if an adult has betrayed a child, turning that child into an old woman before her time.

On the album goes, one telling arrangement after another. Each one a borrowing turned into an original.

This album is a triumph.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Drive Cares Away..." - Hill Of Thieves by CARA DILLON, 6 Feb 2009
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hill of Thieves (Audio CD)
"...His Children Came Around Him With Their Verses And Their Stories...Their Verses And Stories - To Drive Cares Away..."

To add to the other excellent and detailed reviews here - I'll throw in my Dublin/Irish tuppence worth and say that this is a truly gorgeous album - probably one of the loveliest listens I've had pass by my weary ears in yonks.

I've been aware of Northern Ireland's Cara Dillon (she's from Dungiven in County Derry) for some time now. On her lovely "Cara Dillon" debut album in 2001, she did a cover version of a particular favourite of mine - "Black Is The Colour". It was a piano-led/guitar folk take on the famous ballad and it was brilliant. And that delicate as silk voice too - I thought - now here's a talent.

With "Hill Of Thieves" she realizes all of that potential. She also settles down and goes for the full-on-folk album - and like Kate Rusby - or even Andrea Corr - she knocks you sideways with the beauty of her voice and the clever choices of interpreted Traditional Airs (all bar the opener "Hill Of Thieves" are Traditional Songs arranged and interpreted by both Dillon and Sam Lakeman, her keyboardist & husband).

Another fave of mine is "Spencer The Rover", which I first heard covered by JOHN MARTYN on his wonderful "Sunday's Child" album on Island in early 1975 (lyrics above). Cara Dillon does a very different take on it, and for me it's 'the' highlight on here. With his tragic loss still fresh in our minds, I think Iain David McGeachy would give this version a great big Scottish nod - it's gorgeous - it really, really is.

Also worth nothing is that while Sam Lakeman plays on all the tracks and co-arranges all the songs; SETH LAKEMAN duets with her on "Spencer" - and also plays Tenor Guitar and fiddle on the tune. And that would be my only complaint about the album - it's that when Cara and 'Seth' duet - there's a stunning harmony magic that takes place - and I only wish there was more of it on here. Only on the one track I'm afraid.

Cara also does a serenely peaceful version of the famous Londonderry Air "She Moved Through The Fair", while "Jimmy Mo Mile Stor" sounds like a great Planxty/Bothy Band reel - with perfectly complimentary Flutes and Uileann Pipes. Made me tingle and think of home.

If you're new to the lady and her gentle magic, then prepare to punish that credit-crunched plastic of yours again in the next few weeks - because you'll want every album she's ever done after buying this...

Lovely stuff.
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