Bevel Jenny,
Above the Clouds...
(self-produced, 2000)

I knew the band was based in Dublin, Ireland, and some of the tracks listed on the back of Above the Clouds looked fairly traditional. Well, my expectations were quickly shattered.

Bevel Jenny makes an immediate impression as a folk-pop band with the first original track, "Still Searching." Toe-tappingly pleasant, to be sure, but not the Irish sound I was looking for. Ah, but wait.

The second and third tracks, traditionals "Castlekelly" and "Raithneach, a Bhean Bheag," establish Bevel Jenny as a funked-up jazz band of the highest order. Yup, jazz. Sure, there have been Celtic/jazz hybrids of varying degrees in the past, but none to my ears have sounded so perfectly centered as this genre-crossing blend.

Instrumentally solid, Bevel Jenny owes a lot of its punch to the vocal stylings of Aisling Ni Fharachtain (also credited with backing vocals, bodhran and keyboard) and Mairead O'Donnell (backing vocals and fiddle). Whether singing emotional pop melodies, intoning traditional Gaelic lyrics or scatting to the beat, they keep the album flowing smoothly through a string of excellent tracks, joining together Celtic, pop and jazz elements with unwavering success.

Also featured in Bevel Jenny are Mark Sisk (electric and acoustic guitars), Jim Magill (drums and percussion), Padraic O'Farachtain (keyboards), Brian O'hUiginn (uilleann pipes and low D whistle), Simon McVeigh (bass and double bass), Eamonn de Barra (flute) and Michelle O'Brien (fiddle). Combined, the band is smoke on water, a treat to listen to again and again.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 26 January 2002