Ciaran Algar has already staked a convincing claim to being one of the most exciting young talents to emerge on the British Folk scene. Having risen to prominence with the band Tri, he is also a double folk award winner as part of a duo with singer and guitarist Greg Russell. The Last Waltz is Ciaran's first solo offering and a highly accomplished one it is too.
Knowing Ciaran to be a fantastic fiddle player I was expecting the instrumental tracks to be fantastic (which they are) but I was blown away by the quality of the song writing. The title track, The Last Waltz, is a complex comment of the futility of war and the young lives lost through orders from on high. The lyrics are rich and emotive, with a sweeping arrangement that still leaves plenty of room for the words to remain prominent.
Our Home Now, is a love story but not in the conventional sense. Revolving around a dysfunctional relationship it is really the story of how important home and a sense of belonging is. Yet again, the arrangement is almost orchestral in scope, with fantastic vocal harmonies. Until We Meet Again is the only "traditional" song on the album, with an extra verse added on. Some more beautiful harmonies bring this version of the Irish Blessing to life with tenderness and sincerity.
The final song, sung by Ciaran is inspired by the padlocks on the Pont des Arts Bridge (sadly now removed). Taking the lead with the vocals shows the breadth of Ciaran's musical talent, alongside his multi-instrumentals throughout the album.
Having already said the instrumental tracks are fantastic, they complete are well balanced and rounded album. The arrangements are vibrant and engaging, with a pleasing variety within the tunes.
I knew this was going to enjoy this album before I even put it in the CD player. Having heard Ciaran in his other projects, this was always going to be a treat. This is a fantastic first offering as a solo artist and well worth a listen.
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