"Varied second album
young trio in fine fettle."
"Ish-ka-dooer" - that's how you pronounce
the name, formed of the Irish then Welsh words for
water. It's worth knowing, because we'll be hearing
much more of Uiscedwr. Circle marks their arrival
as a technically brilliant, musically versatile, highly
After winning the BBC
Young Folk Award in 2003 and releasing Everywhere,
a promising debut, Anna Esslemotn, the band's Welsh
violinist, fell ill and for a year was unable to work.
Her playing now is better than ever, assured and jazzy
on Esta LeVista, and her songwriting much improved.
The canon is chocker with lamentations for people
leaving for the US. Esslemont takes a different slant,
however. Her song 'America' features a narrator who
can't wait for her man to get himself off over there,
away from her. Yet a yearning in the melody belies
her forthright lyric. Sad? Glad? It's more complicated
than that, the song suggests.
Kevin Dempsey replaces
Ben Hellings on guitar and, having played with Dave
Swarbrick, he knows how to accompany a gifted fiddle
player, matching Esslemont note for note. In 'Flea
Circus', which gets frenetic, he is fast, accurate,
but also expressive, inventive. Throughout the album
Cormac Byrne's bodhran astonishes. How he manages
to coax such melodic as well as rhythmic range from
a wooden hoop and a patch of goat-skin remains a mystery.
His percussion piece, 'Tree', will convert the most
ardent despiser of the drum solo.
All three musicians work joyfully together and Circle,
crisply produced by Joe Broughton, is a delightful
album. Uiscedwr will be appearing at many festivals
- keep an ear out for the MC announcing "Ish-ka-dooer".