We had a fiddle, squeeze box and acoustic guitars a voice that is blessed with angel kisses and Cara plays a mean penny whistle from descant through to the tenor the tone matching the lyrical beauty of the traditional and Cara’s own songs whether sung in Gaelic or English they all weaved their own enchantment.
This is folk music that is full of tradition but has a modernity about the style together with her musical partner Sam Lakeman she has explored music and the journey has been interesting but as we see tonight she is now firmly entrenched in her Irish roots.
Sam opened the evening on piano as Cara’s voice soared across the alter and down the Choir stalls at The Convent, the venue suiting the tone and quality of the music and then the a traditional Donegal number Jacket So Blue, a jig with the fiddler picking up the dance of this happy tempo delight. The songs all have a story and the instrumentation changes creating a textured tapestry as squeeze box takes over from the fiddle and the guitar fades and then the emphasis changes, keeping the set interesting and full of musical energy. We heard songs in Irish about a very drunk man, you did not have to understand the language the emotional tone and lyrical cadence was all you need to be drawn into the music.
Coming back from a short break, where we were entertained by a playlist from the convent the music back catalogue flowed with perfect simplicity as a trio opened the second half; Cara, Sam and the fiddler Niall Murphy. Then as Cara described probably the saddest song you will ever hear capturing the full grief and gamut of emotions described as homesickness felt by a County Derry man who left the land he loved Winding River Road, starting acapella it was spellbinding then Sam on Piano picks up the tune to accompany Cara. A change of tempo with Sam back playing his stylish acoustic guitar and Cara picks up the pace with a lively rendition of Den of Thieves full of energy raising the temperature with the change of tempo; definitely a favourite with the lively and appreciative audience. Sam introduced as the China Set, Cara has many fans in China, an instrumental medley that allowed Cara to have a well-deserved break. Kicking off with a solo from All Ireland Fiddle champion Niall Murphy who played a reel that just had to be danced to! With Sam on guitar, Luke Daniels on squeeze box and Ed Boyd on guitar. Then the voice we all want to hear returns to the stage piano and her Irish lilt is just harmony personified the songs ebbed and flowed the sustaining force was the clarity and beauty of a voice that has to be one of the best female voices of the twenty first century. It has a timeless ethereal quality that’s firmly rooted deep in the soul of Irish music and culture. Closing with a song they composed in the form of a traditional folk song with a long complicated narrative that really works as she warmly thanked the audience for listening in appreciative silence, this was broken with a spontaneous Happy Birthday sung by The Convent audience for Cara before she could start the song you can only get this spontaneity at a live music event. Then an encore a duo that weaved the magic we all wanted to continue live music up close, personal and delivered with love.
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Cara Dillion Photographs from Albums on Cara Dillion’s website