As a long term Cara Dillon fan I was starting to feel things stagnate. Four years on from Hill Of Thieves, the last time I saw her play it seemed to be a case of business as usual with the same line-up of musicians and predictable high points for tried and tested favourites like P Stands For Paddy. Tonight though it was great to see things being shaken up a little, with Niall Murphy coming into the lineup alongside a pretty substantial offering of new tracks from the forthcoming album A Thousand Hearts, due for release in early 2014.
These new tracks slipped in with reassuringly little effort, although in doing so pushed out some of the real mainstay songs. A bit of a risk, some might say, but the crowd seem as beguiled with her voice as ever. I read a line in a review recently which said she could sing the phone book and still make it sound good, and I think that guy pretty much nailed it.
Of course, it helps that in reality she has some superb songs and such a stellar band of accompanists. Whether it’s a traditional arrangement, original piece, or cover like that of Shawn Colvin’s Shotgun Down The Avalanche, Sam and the rest of the band become almost as enticing to watch as the star of the show. At times I really felt the loss of the pipes, but I suppose all progress comes with casualties.