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Clannad - Banba CD (album) cover

BANBA

Clannad

 

Prog Folk

3.08 | 6 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars After the somewhat generic "Sirius" and the very timid "Anam", CLANNAD must have done some soul searching, as "Banba" marks something of a return to the style of their peak mid 1980s period. Unfortunately, it's still a bit too self conscious in its mellowness to approach prior classics, even as it gained the group a spate of accolades on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tracks like "Struggle", "Soul Searcher" and "Sunset Dreams" are tight lipped, slick, and wispy to a fault. Even "I will find you", popularized by its use in "Last of the Mohicans", is bailed out by its mesmerizing Native American chants and eerie electronic keys. The opener "Na Laethe Bhi" is so similar to "Harry's Game" that its gorgeous melody is partially annulled.

Luckily MEL COLLINS' saxes and flutes remain compelling and dominant, but the major upgrade is in the vocals. Most of the highlights, like "Banba Oir", "There for you" and "The Other Side", offer ensemble singing and a more full band backing that counteracts the group's at time overly fragile demeanor. Still, when it comes to interpreting traditional songs freshly and hauntingly, it's hard to beat Maire and her brethren on the otherworldly "Cad de sin don te sin". The well known Breton band TRI YANN interprets the same tune in "Korydwen et le Rouge" equally well yet differently, which proves how much can be achieved through the additive blessings of nature and nurture.

"Banba" showed that Clannad was still a work in progress in 1993, which is a compliment for a group that had been around for over 20 years, Even though it does not match the pioneering spirit and beguiling consistency of earlier releases, it's worth exploring if you enjoy spacey well produced Irish folk with exquisite harmonies.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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