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Cara

Most immediately striking on this album by this Celtic band from Germany are the sublimely intertwined vocals of co-lead singers Gudrun Walther and Sandra Steinort. These two women are simply amazing, not the least because they also play various instruments: fiddle, viola and diatonic accordion for Walther; and piano and flute for Steinort.

Their vocal highlights include their ethereal harmonies on the opening "Poisoned Peas," Walther's romantic "Please Be Peter Tonight" and the rollicking traditional "The House Carpenter."

Equally impressive is the steamrolling modern drive with which the band inflects its traditional Celtic and Breton songs, as well as its originals. Cara boasts a combination of superb technical skills, taut discipline and contemporary dynamism. Much of the credit must go to bandleader-impresario Jürgen Treyz, who not only plays guitar and many other instruments, but produced the album.

Instrumentals such as "Pluzunet" and "C'mon, Tiger!" provide showcases for each of the individual players, but also show off breathtaking group playing, especially when two or three instruments lock together to trace the song's elegant melodies.

Cara also works up a deep groove. The potent quintet is joined here by an electric bassist on half of the album, and a trap drummer on a third of the cuts. It's tough to ignore music this robust and rich.

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