Celtic Connections review: Cara Dillon - City Halls, Glasgow

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IN THE past few years, Cara Dillon has reconnected with her Irish musical roots, and written a song for a Disney show.

Cara Dillon

City Halls, Glasgow

* * *

It seems only fitting that such a broad-minded musician should be accorded the opportunity to restyle her back catalogue with the eloquent backing of her “new friends” the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

But before the big guns came out to play, she opened her set with her own band, who made an impressive sound in themselves when called upon to do so on Johnny, Lovely Johnny and later on a set of tunes.

Elsewhere, Dillon’s fragrant tone was complemented with light, lyrical phrasing on fiddle and whistle, courtesy of Zoe Conway and Michael McGoldrick.

Her husband Sam Lakeman’s move from guitar to grand piano signalled the arrival of the SSO, who enhanced The Verdant Braes Of Skreen with a sensitive swoon. The Maid Of Culmore rested on the comfortable side of Celtic sentimentality, while Dillon’s voice never sounded lovelier than on the a capella opening of Fil, Fil A Run Ó which was then matched for beauty by the massed strings.

But the collaboration truly took flight with the dramatic swell of brass, crashing cymbals and roll of timpani which swept over She Moved Through The Fair and Black Is The Colour.

High Tide, her emigrant song, and The Hill Of Thieves, her homesick blues, provided more intimate moments, as did the concluding crystal clear draught of The Parting Glass.

Fiona Shepherd