Dirty Linen (p.66) - "One need only refer to her bare-bones piano, voice and light strings-assisted arrangement of 'The Snows They Melt the Soonest' to really hear her shine."
Cara Dillon has one of those magical voices -- magical in the way that Niamh Parsons' or Mary Black's is magical, though without sounding very much like either one of them. It's soft without being breathy, and clear without being hard, and absolutely lovely. Her repertoire is similarly hard to define; obviously reared on traditional Irish song, she has spent much of her career so far working in more of a folk-pop mode (notably as Kate Rusby's replacement in the successful band Equation), but both aspects of her musical background are fully in evidence on her American debut album. She recorded it in collaboration with Sam Lakeman, her former bandmate in Equation, and it features a nice mix of modern and traditional fare with something of an emphasis on the latter. The album's first single, "Never in a Million Years," could have been an Equation song, whereas Dillon's quietly spectacular take on the Dougie MacLean composition "Garden Valley" takes more of a trad approach to a modern song. There are a few minor missteps: the slide guitar on "Grace" doesn't work as well as it should, and the rhythm is a bit heavy-handed on "Bold Jamie." But the cameo appearance by Paul Brady (on "Streets of Derry") makes up for a lot, and her gorgeous arrangement of "Brockagh Braes" is alone almost worth the price of the disc. Highly recommended. ~ Rick Anderson