Hands Across the Water

There are so many connections between the musics of Ireland, America, Scotland, Cape Breton, and other Celtic lands. One of those connections is found in compassion, at the heart of things. That’s the substance of the sixteen tracks on this disc — the clear eyed sort of compassion that gives a hand and and ear when you’re needing them to get through tough times. That vision is realized through the fine musicianship and ingenious collaboration of a cornucopia of artists including Tim O’Brien, John Prine, Muireann nic Amhlaoibh, JIm Lauderdale, Maura O’Connell, Altan, Vince Gill, and dozens of others.

Producer Andrea Zonn worked out connections that often ahd artists connecting with each other across continents and over internet connections, in locations from back bedrooms turned recording studios on the road to well known sites of music making. The technology helped make this possible, and that’s a very fine thing. It is technology in service of heart.

Originally conceived by Zonn, who fronts her own trio in addition to touring with James Taylor, as a way to help those displaced by the southeast Asian tsunamis, it has founbd a musical life far beyond that moment, and yet respecting it.

If you’re looking for a Christmas gift that’s not holiday music, this could be it. All the songs are outstanding; two of my favorties are Get Through It, with Jon Randall, Mairtin O’Connor, and Alison Brown, and Let’s Heal, with Altan and Vince Gill. At the quiet center, too, is Zonn’s recognition of faith in Standing Still, which she performs with Flook.

Kerry Dexter. former folk music editor at VH1.com and contributing writer at the folk and world music magazine Dirty Linen, also writes about, music, the arts, and creative practice at Music Road

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