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Ranagri Ranagri
Album: Voices
Label: Goatskin
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.ranagri.com

"Voices" is more a follow up to their previous album, "Fort Of The Hare", rather than the intervening "The Great Irish Songbook" which they recorded with Tony Christie and was more of a special project, rather than part of the linier story, though both album's do provide check points for "Voices", "Fort Of The Hare" quite literally sharing it's dna, with the new cut.

One of the reasons for that was that "Fort Of The Hare" was only physically released on SCD, which though having a greater dynamic range, does come at the price of higher cost and lower compatibility, so a number of the tracks have found themselves revived here. A decision which in the grand scheme of things, doesn't matter one iota, largely because the context has changed around them.

Even though they are just a four piece Ranagri really manage to give their music a large space to make its presence felt, regardless of a song being a dynamic driver or a comparative quiet tune, it manages to fill the room/space allocated to it without ever seeming to much, always a sign of good music.

Another good sign is a refusal to be bound by convention, without getting into the whole what is folk debate, something this album sort of distils down to thirteen songs, "Voices" is a folk album and yet there are aspects that draw more on the Irish show band sound, others drawing on pop and further still a rich Celtic atmosphere.

Flutes, whistles and harp give the sound a luxurious foundation on which to build, but also take an opportunity to lead when the chance presents itself. Bodhran delivers an oh so subtle percussive element, leaving guitars and voices to weave around them. This is definitely where melody underpins the narrative and allows the material to work on so many levels.

"Voices" is an album for the car, where it more than helps take you through an otherwise mind numbing journey, lifting spirits and even the odd singalong and yet it also allows for sticking on the headphones and escaping into the stories and lore.

Unless you are really new to folk music, you will recognise a number of the tracks delivered here, but you'll also get that sense of relief that Ranagri have really explored how they are going to apply the arrangements. Add in a good number of original pieces and you'll also soon be discovering why "Voices" is such a captivating album.

Neil King