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LIZ CARROLL - Lost in the Loop RATING:  *****
Green Linnet 2000 GLCD1199 Reviewer: Ian Clarke

I must confess my ignorance; after many years of hearing Liz Carrollís reels played at sessions I had an image of the composer as an octogenarian from Cork or a deceased, legendary Galway woman. A pleasant surprise then to learn that Liz is in fact an attractive (and youngish) American-Irish native of Chicago.

And very much alive and kicking based on the evidence of this CD.

From track one it is obvious that not only is she a genius at writing tunes but a supreme player. Of course it helps if youíve got Seamus Egan at the recording desk and the Solas guitar player John Doyle in the engine room.

The fiddle playing is fantastic, whether urgent as on the first track reels "Seven" and "The Golden Legs"/"Flogging Reel" set or poignant and elegiac "Lament for the First Generation" or Daithi Sprouleís lovely "Crow in the Sun".

He touch is assured and bold. Technically she is the mistress of all styles not only Irish but also Shetland and classical, on the slower tunes it is reminiscent of the grace of Nollaig Caseyís playing.

It speaks volumes of Carrollís new compositions (13 of them here) that they sit so well beside established tunes. It wonít be long before they become absorbed into the Session repertoire alongside "The Silver Spear", "The Earlís Chair" and "Musical Priest" which she includes here in a brilliant set.

Liz is superbly accompanied throughout by players like Egan, Doyle and Winifred Horan from Solas, also Chico Huff (bass), Zan McLeod (bouzouki), Michael Aharon (guitar & keyboards) and the arrangements are always right on the button, sparse or complex as required. The recording captures an exciting, spontaneous live sound, unlike many studio albums, and the musicians all seem to be having great fun.

The album is a total delight. I havenít enjoyed a Irish fiddle music CD since Kevin OíConnorís "From the Chest". Liz Carroll has quickly challenged Aly Bain for my Favourite Fiddler spot. I borrowed Brendan Carsonís copy for the review and heíll have to come round to my house to prise it off my CD player.