27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2002
There has been much hype about Cara Dillon culminating in her double award at this year's radio 2 folk awards. On the evidence of this album the hype is totally deserved. The voice is indeed a beautiful one but what stands out for me from this record are the magnificent arrangements and the beautiful rolling piano of Sam Lakeman. The tone is set by the first track, the winner of 'best traditional track 2002, 'Black is the Colour'. It is a tremendous performance, quite exquisite and transposes traditional material into vital 21st century music. It is really hard to pick out favourite tracks but 'Donald of Gelencoe', 'Craigie Hill' 'She's like the Swallow'are tremendous arrangements, 'Blue Mountain River' bodes well for more self-penned material in the future but there are no duff tracks here. This is a group of young musicians wonderfully keeping the flame of the tradition burning brightly. It's brilliant stuff. Buy it!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Born and raised in Dungiven, County Derry, this is Cara's first solo album - she has released albums as part of the bands Oige and Equation. It was when she joined Equation she met the man who became her musical partner (and soon to be husband) Sam Lakeman. Together, they left the band within a year of Cara joining and started working towards this release. Recorded in Donegal and Devon, produced by Sam and released in July 2001 this album is a must-have if (i) you like music of a traditional / folk leaning or (ii) regardless of the musical style, you can appreciate a truly outstanding singing voice.
All but three of the eleven songs on the album are traditional. "Lark in the Clear Air", one of these three, is probably the album's weakest. The lyrics are brimming with so much sweetness, listening too closely to them could cause a feeling of nausea. In fairness to Cara and Sam, it wasn't penned by them - "Blue Mountain River", one of their own compositions, is a much stronger song musically and lyrically.
On the whole, though, I'd have to say I prefer the traditional songs. The album starts with what I'd consider to be the best - "Black is the Colour" and "Donald of Glencoe". However, the rest of the album is far from disappointing - the remaining tracks are all very good and would be the highlights of many other albums. "She's Like the Swallow" especially deserves an honourable mention. Like the rest of the album, it's beautifully played sung - it also has the benefit of not being a straightforward love song !
I'd say this album would be the sort of recording that would suit nicely when you've had a rotten day at work - draw the curtains, stretch out on the sofa, start listening and relax. I've never grown tired of listening to it, have never forgotten about it and still listen to regularly.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2002
I heard Cara Dillon by accident. As I listened to her voice I could not quite believe how much power she carries in notes that she so easily reaches. Her lyrics are very traditional (Irish), and she refrains from carrying her own words, without in anyway missing out on a style so profound. I find her similar in listening to Eva Cassidy, she has obviously chosen songs that are loved by her, and sang them with much beauty, I would reccomend this title to anyone, as It would be a shame to not add this classic, to any collection. Sit back, light the candles, and dream about a day she sings so beautifully about, so as to feel as if you could slip from here, back to then. I think she is brilliant!!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2001
If there is one voice you could listen to all day it is that of this girl from Dungiven, Northern Ireland. Heart-breakingly delicate, angelic, effortless, with a devastating rarefied quality which formerly I thought was unique to Polly Bolton. Stylistically brilliant, faultless -- and I really mean never a hint of a blemish -- with pure tone, the weeniest hint of vibrato. Completely natural, high, great range; never ever forced. It does sound girlishly sweet but it has absolutely none of the negative connotations. I doubt there has ever been a voice so quiet yet so powerful. Is it a head voice, or from the throat? I don't know: it just comes out from the corners of her mouth and mesmerises everybody. And yes, it sounds almost as good on CD as it does live.
If I had to choose musician/arrangers the Lakemans might well top my list. Keyboardist Sam is the principal musician and the arranger with Cara. By the second in Donald Of Glencoe the power of arrangement really pulls you up. It's a highly effective use of contemporary ideas to carry and add force to a trad song, followed by a paragon of simplicity in Craigie Hill; then a stunning rhythmic treatment of Green Grows The Laurel. Precision tastefullness almost unmatched for the still youthful average age of this lot. The Lakemans outdo just about everybody in distinctive original use of rhythm and instrumentation (without anything remotely whacky) for setting folk songs, even though the standard in this area has climbed steeply of late.
Good to hear the superb melody of Lark In The Clear Air; just piano/vocal. The Lonesome Scenes Of Winter is a classic example of how to build a sparse accompaniment into a full band setting -- there are other musicians on the album to provide electric guitar/drums/bass sparingly. Then sandwiched right in the middle of the album are two strong Cara/Sam originals which hold up against the trad material, despite the next up being another gorgeous melody sensitively treated: The Maid Of Culmore. The first, Blue Mountain River, explodes into its chorus and I Wish I Was is forcefully, innovatively phrased; both interesting halfway houses between trad and the beautiful new acoustic of The Equation.
Another fine example of an arrangement which builds, She's Like The Swallow, and then the final item, I Am A Youth That's Inclined To Ramble, which comes with an added vocalised coda so absolutely right it's hard to imagine the song without it. Throughout the songs have been chosen for tunes with the Irish strength of bags of rise and fall, and distinctive ones at that. Cara sings them without the slightest suspicion of inappropriate embellishment. Magical.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2003
This is a beautiful albumn. If you are a fan of celtic music and enjoy the beautiful voices of artists such as Enya, Clannad, Kate Rusby & Eva Cassidy, this is guranteed to a winner. It is quite an unusual album, in the sense that although it echoes a traditional Celtic sound, e.g laments & ballads about ships and sailors; Cara has also firmly stamped this collection of songs with her own personal traits. Her voice is very pretty and she sings with a deep feeling that only a handful of artists have previously mastered. Definately thumbs up!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2002
I first came across Cara Dillon in an Irish music compilation, singing 'The Maid of Culmore'. Her vocal dexterity had me rivetted, and overly using the 'replay track' button. I didn't hesitate to buy her album when I discovered that one existed, but expected the compilation track to preceed an album that was probably somewhere between 'OK' and 'Good'.
How wrong I was when the first lines of 'Black is the Colour...' were sung .... from that moment on, I was in a catatonic state of immobile bliss until the album finished - then I replayed it twice more to check that this wasn't a dream !
Cara's voice, and arrangements of traditional songs are beyond description - our language cannot do it enough justice. This has to be one of the finest music albums that I've ever purchased, and I can't wait for her next creation and to even experience a live performance.
Thankyou Cara .... very few songs have caused me to cry with their astonishing beauty, and you've gifted us with an album full. Long may you sing ......
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2003
If folk received more recognition Cara Dillon's debut album would receive much more coverage and exposure. Standout tracks are "Black is the Colour" "Green Grows the Laurel" "Lark in the clear air" "She's like the swallow" and "The Maid of Culmore". I saw Cara live in Stratford (East London) last night and she's even better than the record. Superb vocals and...the band played well too. She has a new album out in September which will include original material. Can't wait for September!
Treat yourself and enjoy. Much better and authentic than The Corrs!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2002
To have bought the Cara Dillon CD and then to have seen her in concert was a double bonus in 2002. The CD is beautiful in its simplicity. Never over complicated the clarity of her voice shines through on each track. For me, my favourite is "Craigie Hill" where she is joined by Mary Dillon and the harmonies are special. The very moving, "Lark in the Clear Air" is wonderful and Cara gives it so much feeling. This is a CD that will restore your faith in simple music sung with a passion that reaches out for the listener to absorb. Easily my finest purchase this year.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2001
Forget Pop Music and Rap. Folk music has made another return. This won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows there stuff, because it has done this for years. This time Cara Dillon has recorded the folk album of the year and the album of the year. This album is a fantasic example of the young Derry-born star's voice. It's beautifully haunting and so gentle.
Sam Lakeman shows us how fabulous traditional music can sound when presented to a brilliant producer like himself. The best of the best versions of Black is the Colour is on this album. Those brilliant sounds and Cara's unique voice create a perfect song.
Blue Mountain River and I Wish I Was are perfect examples of how good they are at writing songs. The best things about this album are the fantasic little harmonies and the humming sounds on some of the songs. Craigie Hill is a beautiful song that will touch even hearts of stone and The Lonesome Scenes of Winter has the most beautiful sounds ever heard.
When I start buying folk albums, I should start to worry about myself, but for this album I'll make an exception.Cara's voice is haunting and so beautiful. Pic of The Year and can only be beaten by another Cara Dillon album! 100000/10.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Cara Dillon's eponymously titled debut album marks her out as a fragileyet seductive songstress whose traditional ballads weave a gentle webaround the listener.
Tracks such as 'black is the colour' have becomestaples of folk/roots shows like Mike Harding's BBC2 wednesday nightbash.However...it is songs such as the relatively up tempo 'The lonesomescenes of winter'....the lush 'green grows the laurel' and the mournful 'Iam a youth that's inclined to ramble' which carry the most emotionalpotency.
A beautiful album which remains as vivid and as fresh anexperience as you could wish for !