Monday 21 April 2014


CD Review

A Thousand Hearts

Let's face facts, Cara Dillon has such a sweet and stunningly melodious voice she could be using the text from an electrical appliance manual as lyrics and it would be worth listening to.

Cara Dillon
This is Dillon's first album for five years since the highly acclaimed Hill of Thieves and if you stretch a point you could call it a concept album in that it's all loosely based around the feelings and affairs of the heart.
Husband/producer Sam Lakeman has recruited some impressive help for this album not least of which is Aoife O'Donovan and John Smith.
Hearts is a very restful album, the fastest of the tracks is the opener Jacket So Blue which sets out Dillon's stall straight away, showing off why her silken Northern Irish tones have made her one of the leading vocalists on the folk circuit and a favourite of the Transatlantic Sessions. The song nails its colours to the mast as a straight-up folk narrative about lovers being separated by a life at sea.
Although this track does have a Celtic feel to it, song for song the album, as a whole, has less of that feel than the previous offering from 2009. This is not a criticism and it does show Dillon is exploring and introducing a variety of influences into her repertoire.
Bright Morning Star is the first of the softer ballads on the 11-track album. It is a soulful rendition and if there is one criticism of this album it's that most of the tracks sound similar and there is little change of pace or musical style. But chances are Dillon fans have been waiting five years so they won't really care about such detail.
If you didn't know it already then the quality of Dillon's voice is unquestionably top notch and if you wanted just one track which showcases just how mesmerising and almost spiritual her voice is then My Donald is it. In between the musical interludes, which take a back seat when she is singing, you get the full scope of just how much of an aural indulgence listening to Dillon is, she is chocolate for the ears.
Moorlough Mary is one of the more obvious Celtic offerings and is among the faster-paced tracks on the album, it is about the nearest you will get to a foot tapper.
Cara Dillon's new album
Shotgun Down The Avalanche leans more towards the country side of things and has some nice ethereal sounding musical inserts especially from the flute.
Probably the most thoughtful and evocative track on the album is River Run where Dillon sounds like a mix of Dolly Parton and Kate Bush. It's a cover version of the song from a little known band called Suddenly Tammy! from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is a tribute to River Phoenix. On this track the simple piano notes are the perfect accompaniment to her luscious voice and you can see this being a big romantic hit.
With Erigh Suas A Stoirin (Rise Up My Darling) the Celtic strand returns quite strongly and is carried along like a light dance through the mandolin and squeezebox when Dillon takes a backseat to let the instrumental take it to the end of the track.
It's back to the traditional folk with Eighteen Years Old with a narrative of suitors and maidens wanting only to find their true love. Dillon uses a much stronger and precise singing style on this track with every word being let go only when perfectly formed.
Singing once again in her native tongue for Taimse Im' Chodladh (I Am Sleeping Don't Wake Me), Dillon's silken voice is perfectly accented by the soft sound of the piano.
For the penultimate track, The Shores of Lough Bran, Dillon adds almost a smoky tone to her voice for yet another slow ballad which is true to the folk tradition. This time it's the guitar and mandolin which adds the strands of tonal colour to the song.
Most of those who listen to folk or Irish music will know As I Roved Out but Dillon has added her own particular gentleness with her voice rolling up and down in soft, undulating tones which are almost hypnotic.
This album is somewhat frustrating in that you want to find a WOW! factor but there isn't one.
However, Dillon has a voice which is worth listening to whatever she sings and as her fans have been starved of an album for five years it's guaranteed they will overlook any shortcomings and just enjoy listening to her gorgeous tones.

A Thousand Hearts is out on May 19 on Dillon's own Charcoal Records label and you can preorder it at

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