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Callan Bridge
Artist: Niall and Cillian Vallely
Label: Compass Records
Time:13 tracks/52:48

Callan Bridge, the first release from the duo of Irish brothers Niall and Cillian Vallely is a mixture of old standards of instrumental folk music and some new pieces of the same idiom.

What sets this album apart is the uncustomary instrumentation.  The uillean pipes (played by Cillian) are expected, and, indeed, almost mandatory in such recordings, but the concertina, as played by Niall, gives a different tone color to the recording as a whole. 

There seems to be an almost telepathic link between the playing of the two brothers, as musical siblings often establish.  Some of the more interesting tracks on here include the opening track, "Rio," the humorously named "Once In A Blue Moose," and "The Singing Stream."

While the run-time, at nearly 53 minutes, isn't that long, the album does seem to drag a little, as the overall sound of the album seems somewhat flat; there isn't a lot of dynamic difference or melodic variety.  This is not so much a knock on the album as a recognition of the limitations of the instrumentation and genre.

On the whole, the album is worth a listen, but unless you are a great fan of the sound of uillean pipes and concertina, you may find yourself a little anxious for the album to be over about 40 minutes in.  It certainly is not an album for the listener with a casual interest in Irish folk music.  However, the more serious aficionado will find much of worth here.

Alex Klages 1/20/2003


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