(Greentrax, 2005)

This Australian-based band has produced some of the most sparkling contemporary folk music of recent years. The unique sound of Kat Kraus's voice combines with the excellent singing and playing of the other members, blending to produce musical magic.

The current album features a greater percentage of self-composed material than the previous releases and as such augers very well for the future, not only of the band but for contemporary Australian folk music.

They open with a marvelous track called "The Judas Trap" from the combined talents of Kraus and John Munro. Munro is a writer par excellence and he is never better than when he turns his mind and talents to the situation of the emigrant. On "The Border," he produces one of the best emigrant songs heard in a long time, and when it is performed with the voice of Kraus and the fiddle of Emma Luker, listeners get a magical track.

As if to blot out the heart sickness of the emigrant Munro then teams up with group member Pete Titchener to produce a lovely upbeat celebration of their adopted homeland on "Carry Me Away."

No contemporary folk group can ignore the current situations in a world of suffering. "My Only Son" brings the anguish of war and children to mind. As the lyrics remind us, "Allah, Buddha, Jesus Christ all stand for love and brotherhood, and yet I see on every hand such evil in the name of good." The anti-war theme continues on the strident "Stand Up."

Colcannon can conjure up some top-class compositions, but they can also take the words and music of others and deliver a powerful message. Stephen Stills wrote "Find the Cost of Freedom" following the shooting of students by police at Kent State University. This tragic event happened before many of us were born, but listen closely to understand the power of the event and of music.

"Bless This House" is not a re-invention of the old standard. It is new song from Munro and Luker that could become a standard of the 21st century -- if enough people hear it. The album closes with Carly Simon's "Let the River Run."

Colcannon continues to produce excellent new music and interpret classics of the recent past that might otherwise drift from the canon of the folk genre. They are to be applauded on all counts, but mostly because they entertain us.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 4 June 2005