|Melting Snow - Irish Times, Friday March 20th 2009|
How refreshing it is to hear a debutante who's resisted tossing the kitchen sink into the mix.
Clare fiddler (and Lord of the Dance veteran) Orla Harrington might have been listening closely to Martin Hayes during her formative years, so clear-headed is her approach to her own debut.
With bouzouki, mandolin, guitar and concertina for accompaniment (but never for casual jousting), Harrington plays like a musician with nothing to prove.
The loping gait of the jig set, Queen of the Rushes, reeks of the magic of a session, with its emphasis on the weave and weft of Harrington's bow hand, rather than on the pursuit of any surgical precision in the tune.
With her brother Colm she relaxes into a gorgeous fiddle duet on Grainne's/John Gorman's. A surefooted debut.|
SIOBHAN LONG ****
|Flagstone Memories - Eileen O'Brien, September 2011|
The proud musical heritage of east Clare is flawlessly presented in this recording. Andrew's superb rhythm, phrasing and virtuosity is effortlessly matched, note-for-note, by Orla's brilliant, accurate and inspiring fiddle playing.|
Jim Higgins' empathic percussion and piano accompaniment underscores the rhythmic and harmonious fluency of this exceptional duet.
As the title suggests, Flagstone Memories evokes thoughts of the past. Through this recording Andrew, Orla and Jim provide us with a listening experience that demonstrates how past and present are interwoven.
Each tune selection is played with integrity and sensitivity. There is also subtle use of variation and ornamentation.
The result is traditional music played with vibrancy, flair and great respect.
|Flagstone Memories - John O'Regan, Irish Music Magazine December 2011|
Clare fiddler, Orla Harrington made an impressive debut with Melting Snow some two years ago. Now she joins forces with sometime Altan percussionist, Jim Higgins and Clare accordionist Andrew McNamara for Flagstone Memories.|
A collection of music rooted in the Clare tradition with material inspired by reel to reel tape collections found in Orla's family's attic and also by the O'Halloran family of Castlequarter, Co Clare.
There is a delightfully retro feel to the music here, with tight arrangements and compact ensemble work. No bells and whistles just straight down the line traditional music. The drum and piano accompaniments are straight out of The Tulla/Kilfenora C¨Ļili Band's 1950s cuts and the steady roll of the ensemble playing recalls the Canny/Hayes/Lafferty/O'Lochlainn partnership in the '50's.
Orla Harrington's fiddling continues to sparkle, while Andrew McNamara is a spare but efficient sparring partner and Jim Higgins wraps things tightly in a cushioned comfort. The box/fiddle duets on The Skyeman's Jig and Moloney's Wife soar, while the trio work on The Coalminer reflects the tightness and precision with which they pursue their craft.
The sparse approach radiates the assimilation of older production values of avoiding excess highlighting the nuances embraced and forwarded therein. This is straight forward traditional music, full of quality and precision rooted in East Clare dynamics, cool delivery and first rate musicianship. File under excellent.