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Live at Cooper Hall

Philippe Cousin

Like all artists, Irish singer Cara Dillon has had a hard time with the lockdown.

To compensate for the lack of shows, she and her husband Sam Lakeman decided to offer two concerts in 2020, recorded under live conditions but without an audience, which were widely broadcast on the web.

It is precisely these two shows that are at the origin of the album Live at Cooper Hall, the eighth by the singer from Dungiven in Ulster. Sixteen tracks drawn from Cara's vast repertoire and partly from her previous album Wanderer.

Cara has an angelic, rare and unique voice that has won her numerous awards since the age of 14. Famous for blending traditional and contemporary elements, this time she has chosen a majority of traditional songs, arranged by her and her husband, Sam accompanying her solely on piano and guitar, with a hint of tin whistle from time to time.

You'll recognise the standard The Water Is Wide and the superb False, False, which will send shivers down your spine from the first piano chords. Or The Hill Of Thieves, an ode to Dungiven where she grew up. It's also Blackwater Side, already heard from Altan's Mairéad, Mary Black's Black Is The Colour or The Maid Of Culmore. And then a breathtaking version of The Verdant Braes Of Skreen. The Shores Of Lough Bran, a traditional song about a wake before a migrant leaves for North America, is worth mentioning. Finally, Cara closes this delicate album with Dubhdara, a song written by composer Shaun Davey and performed many years ago by Rita Connolly on the album Granuaille. All in all, more than an hour of pure happiness.

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