Making Waves
(self-produced, 2000)

Cadenza is a Sligo-based group that is alternately described as a duo and a quartet. Their promotional information describes them as a duo consisting of singer-songwriter and harpist Dierdre Byron-Smith and Anna Houston, a multi-talented composer who plays cello, banjo and mandolin. The CD insert for their debut CD, Making Waves, says that Cadenza is also Steve Wickham on fiddle and mandolin and Gerry Grennan on guitars and backing vocals.

If the group itself is hard to categorize, their music is even harder to fit into a slot. Making Waves contains jigs and reels, folky songs and pop-style songs. These guys are all over the place. And then there are the guest musicians, including Karin Widmer, Susan McKeown, Niamh Martin, Roisin O'Reilly, Seumas O'Dowd and others.

The CD is dominated by Deirdre Byron-Smith's lovely singing. Her crystal-clear voice is simply gorgeous, without the breathy quality so many pop singers have been displaying of late. In addition, she is credited with writing much of the music which appears on the CD.

There are a few standout songs on the CD. Among them is "Eastern Promise," a darkly sensual song with, you guessed it, an Eastern flavor. "Phantom Lover" evokes the smokey clubs of the 1940s, with its hint of blues. "Missing" is a gentle song which sounds like it should be a love song, but throbs with sadness. Another standout, but for another reason, is Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." Even with the eclectic nature of the music on this CD, this song doesn't seem to fit.

Cadenza's debut CD is original and unique. Here's hoping they stay hard to classify.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 8 December 2001