Q - 1/94, p.84
Included in Q's list of 'The 50 Best Albums Of 1993' - "...The combination of headspinning drive and pure melancholy gives them a one-two punch that is unmatched in contemporary folk circles...."
Q - 12/93, p.1074 Stars
- Excellent - "...[ISLAND ANGEL] is another worthy release from [Altan]...ISLAND ANGEL is in the running [for Folk Album Of The Year]..."
Altan: Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh (vocals, fiddle); Mark Kelly, Daithi Sproule (guitar, background vocals); Ciaran Tourish (fiddle, whistle, background vocals); Ciaran Curran (bouzouki, bouzouki-guitar); Frankie Kennedy (flute, low whistle, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Neil Martin (cello); Dermot Byrne (accordion); Steve Cooney (fretless bass); Donal Lunny (bouzouki, keyboards, bodhran); Tommy Hayes (percussion); Anna Ni Mhaonaigh (background vocals).
Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin, Ireland in July 1993.
Personnel: Mair‚ad N¡ Mhaonaigh (vocals, fiddle); Ciar n Tourish (whistling, fiddle, background vocals); Da¡th¡ Sproule, Mark Kelly (guitar, background vocals); D¢nal Lunny (bouzouki, keyboards, bodhran); Ciar n Curran (bouzouki); Niall Martin, Neil Martin (cello); Frankie Kennedy (flute, background vocals); Dermot Byrne (accordion); Steve Cooney (fretless bass); Tom Hayes (percussion); Anna N¡ Mhaonaigh, Anna Ni Mhanaigh (background vocals).
Recording information: WindMill Lane Studios, Dublin, Ireland (07/1993).
The follow-up to 1992's brilliant Harvest Storm was this almost equally powerful album, similar to its predecessor in configuration and artistry, but lacking some of the moments of simple magic that animated that previous effort. The band opens with an exhilarating set of reels consisting of the ever-popular "Tommy Peoples," "The Windmill" (an original composition of Altan fiddler Ciaran Tourish), and "Fintan McManus's." This leads into the romantic lament "Brid Og Ni Mhaille," beautifully sung, as always, by fiddler Maighread N¡ Mhaonaigh, then into a set of highlands and more reels. The program proceeds similarly throughout, lively instrumental sets alternating with lushly beautiful songs of heartbreak and loss. Highlights include the slightly eerie children's song "Dulaman," a sweet and gentle rendition of the classic "The Jug of Punch," and a nice arrangement of one of fiddler John Doherty's mazurkas. If you already own Harvest Storm and Red Crow, then this would be an excellent next purchase. ~ Rick Anderson