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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 39 - 12/22/99

Susan Craig Winsberg
La Belle Dame
Craig Records

The flute is a lonely instrument. Classical is the realm of strings, jazz the home to the saxophone, blues the land of guitar and harmonica. With the exception of the occasional Jethro Tull song on the radio, one does not hear much flute in modern music. Fortunately, the flute, and its cousin, the recorder, have found a home on this beautiful collection of Celtic and Poetic songs.

Susan Craig Winsberg performs, as the album's subtitle suggests, the "Music of Love, Longing and Sorrow in the Celtic and Poetic Traditions" on modern flutes, traditional flutes, whistles and recorders, backed by many other traditional instruments, including pedal harp, archlute and Celtic harp, giving the album a delightful acoustic/analog feel in this synthetic/digital world.

A soothing collection of instrumental and vocal pieces, both traditional arrangements and modern compositions by Winsberg, the vocalists here are Susan McKeown, Kathleen Fisher and Molly Pasutti. But it is Winsberg's playing that best reflects the mood, from early longing in the opening Sea-Longing to the celebratory The Soldier's Song, only a few tracks along.

More than the diversity of the music and the variety of instruments played - including bass and alto flutes and a 19th Century wooden flute - one is struck by the sonic landscape, how one song moves into the next effortlessly, as centuries old ancestral scores find kindred spirits among modern creations. The Poetic songs here are favorite poems set to music, including the album's title source: John Keats' La Belle Dame sans Merci. Without musical accompaniment, lyrics often read like bad poetry, but when good poetry is set to good music, the union is gloriously harmonious.

So stoke up the fire, grab a pint of Guinness, and let your ears relish in this traditional soundscape performed with a modern sensibility.

For further information, visit the official Craig site.

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