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Some of the finest artists from Ireland and abroad captured unplugged and impassioned over the course of 39 tracks.

Rating: 8 / 10

John Walshe, 07 Jul 2003

The latest double-CD collection compiled from the best acoustic sessions on the Jon Richards’ Drivetime show on Galway Bay FM, EmBraces is pretty much what we have come to expect from the series to date: some of the finest artists from Ireland and abroad captured unplugged and impassioned over the course of 39 tracks.

“So what makes this different from the last Richards’ collection?” you might ask. To be honest, the answer is “Nothing really”, apart from the godawful artwork, which resembles a Whitesnake cover circa 1978. Music wise, this record very much subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philsophy.

As usual, there’s a healthy mixture of Irish heavyweights (The Frames, Damien Rice, Mundy and The 4 Of Us contribute two tracks each), along with newer faces like Ann Scott, Fionn Regan and Babelfish (now known as Alphastates). There’s also a fair smattering of performers from outside these shores, including James Yorkston (who gets all Nick Drake-like on the sublime ‘Sweet Jesus’), Eddi Reader (accompanied by Boo Hewerdine on guitar), Kathryn Williams (more impressive with each hearing) and Josh Ritter.

Highlights are plentiful indeed, although special mention must go to Woodstar’s gorgeous ‘The King’, The Frames’ mesmerising ‘Santa Maria’, the sweet melancholy of The Devlins’ ‘There Is A Light’, Leya’s soaring ‘Prove’. Elsewhere, Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s finger-twisting ‘Diem’, The 4 Of Us’ classic ‘Washington Down’ and, perhaps surprisingly, The Sawdoctors’ bittersweet ‘Still The Only One’ further demonstrate that Richards possesses one of the mot formidably stocked archive vaults around.
Rating: 8 / 10

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