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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shannon Heaton - The Blue Dress

Shannon Heaton - The Blue Dress
2010, East Records

Shannon Heaton gets down to business with her first solo album, The Blue Dress.  Readers might remember Heaton from ­­­­Lover’s Well, a splendid album mixing folk and Celtic styles released with husband Matt Heaton.  We weren't the only ones to notice, as Irish American News named Shannon Heaton Female Musician of the Year for 2009, and deemed Lover’s Well the Trad Fusion Album of 2010.  With The Blue Dress, Heaton puts her voice and tin whistle aside and focuses solely on the flute.  Using her favorite piece of clothing for inspiration, Heaton has crafted an album full of grace, class and a mischievous spirit that's undeniable.

Heaton is world class on The Blue Dress, opening with "44 Mille Street", a lovely montage of reels that will have you yearning for a dance floor.   "99 High" takes polka to the reel in a sharp instrumental that finds Heaton playing the flute like it was born a part of her.  "Blue Dress Waltz" is a lyric and lush, the emotional centerpiece of the album.  "Dennis Watson's (reels)" is lively and driven with a cinematic flavor, pulsing with imagery and light.  "Nights On Caledonia Terrace" is a pretty and peaceful experience, a breather of sorts for both Heaton and the listener.  "Grandfather's Thoughts" is a spritely tune that dances with its own internal joy.  Heaton is inspired here by memory or love, or both and that inspiration shines through the song like sunshine through glass.  "Aunt Jane's Trip" is energetic and full of life, starting out relaxed but accelerating from a relaxed ramble to a race.  The joy and urgency here are undeniable.  Likewise, "Irish Washerwoman" starts out slow but works up into a nice lather before giving way to the closing reel, "Homeless Cow".  Heaton inspires movement here in a fitting close.

The Blue Dress establishes what fans have known for some time, she's one of the pre-eminent purveyors of modern Celtic flute music on the western edge of the Atlantic.  Heaton generally shares the stage with her husband Matt as a dynamic duo, but with The Blue Dress, Shannon Heaton proves that she can be a star in her own right.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Shannon Heaton at www.mattandshannonheaton.comThe Blue Dress is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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