Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Double Play (Compass Records, 2009)

Chicago resident Liz Carroll first gained attention in Irish music circles as a teenager in the 1970's, when she won a pair of fiddling competitions in Ireland. She recorded and performed sporadically between the late seventies and 2000, but has since picked up the pace considerably. John Doyle's guitar playing for the band Solas in the late nineties was nothing less than a revelation; his energetic, percussive accompaniment completely redefined the style and has spawned many imitators. Carroll and Doyle have toured together frequently over the past decade, and Double Play is their second album as a duo.

Carroll and Doyle make a really good team because they can play with the subtlety and intimacy you would expect from a duo, but they can also match the energy and fury of the best five or six-piece Irish bands. Double Play contains plenty of examples of both mellow and high-octane Irish fiddle tunes, many of which were composed by either Carroll or Doyle. Doyle also sings three songs for the album. The pair have set a high standard of quality in their performances both separately and together over the years, and they don't disappoint here. My favorites are the set beginning with "Lament for Tommy Makem," in which Doyle plays some really nice harmony under Carroll's melody, and the set beginning with "Paddy Glackin's Trip to Dingle." Perhaps I'm biased because Dingle Bay was one of the highlights of my honeymoon, but that set really swings.

If you're a fan of Irish music, or a least curious about the genre, you'll definitely like Double Play. Liz Carroll and John Doyle are both superb players whose abilities are well showcased by this recording. Like with a lot of recordings by top-notch folk musicians, though, it doesn't quite match what the performers can do live, so definitely see them in concert as well if you get the chance.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

Liz Carroll and John Doyle were the featured entertainment at The Capitol on St. Patrick's Day. The musicians come out of this looking good. Draw your own conclusions about everybody else.

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