As we spring forward into summer time, here's a bright and cheerful album of traditional Irish dance music and Carolan pieces played on hammered dulcimer by Cliff Moses, on his first solo album. Not only is 'The coming of Spring' the title of one of the tracks, but it also reflects the bright and light sound of the dulcimer.
The hammered dulcimer is an unusual instrument in Irish music; it's nearest cousin would be the harp, though the strings are hit rather than plucked. Wire strings are used, and there is no damping, giving it a more bell-like tone, like the older style of Irish harp.
My first thought on getting this album was a worry that it was going to be a wishy-washy "atmospheric" kind of album, like I'd heard on dulcimer before. Nothing could be further from the truth; drive and precision are here in plenty, and the result is (at least to me) a new sound, which combines freshness with tradition. Like much harp music, it is relatively muted compared with many other instruments, and closer to listening music than dancing music, and the Carolan pieces give it a baroque touch, but is has enough drive and lift to get the fingers tapping in no time at all.
The 15 tracks and 55 minutes of this album are largely a mix of traditional dance sets and O'Carolan pieces, with a few exceptions like Moon of Clare, Cliff's version of 'Claire de la Lune'.
Moses lives in Texas, where is he a founder member of the group St. James's Gate, which has won an All-Ireland medal for best instrumental group (1986); Cliff himself has a second and third prize All-Ireland in the infamous 'miscellaneous instruments' category. He says he took up the dulcimer after hearing Malcolm Daglish's "Banish Misfortune" album, and because there were already too many guitar and banjo players around.
Like most 'solo' albums, there are other contributors: in this case, Tom McMasters accompanies many tunes on guitar or bodhran, and James Gembarowski adds a flute line on a few cuts.
Cliff Moses 14623 Hidden Glen Woods San Antonio, TX 78249 email email@example.comCost (including postage) is $15 for the CD, $10 for cassette, by cash or check.