The husband-and-wife tandem of Dale and Darcy Cahill might be best known to audiences beyond the trad-folk realm as key members of rowdy local Celtic punk band the Cop Outs. But when they're not sloshing pints and shouting singsong choruses with that outfit, you'll typically find them on cozier stages around Vermont as the acoustic duo Dale and Darcy.
While the Cop Outs are undeniably livelier, acoustic Celtic folk more sincerely represents the duo's artistic heart. This is made clear on a pair of recently released recordings, Irish and Waltz. If the Cop Outs' 2015 self-titled debut was the soundtrack to pounding Guinness and Jameson at the pub on a Saturday night, then Dale and Darcy's twin records are the soothing cure for the hangover that follows on Sunday morning.
Both records are composed almost exclusively of traditional numbers, many of the instantly familiar variety, such as "Ash Grove" and "Young Jane" (Waltz), and "Farewell to Whiskey" and "Woodchopper's Breakdown" (Irish). Each record contains 13 such cuts. And on both, the Cahills are joined by longtime collaborators Will Patton on bass and multi-instrumentalist Neil Rossi. Any band that includes Patton and Rossi is aces in our book. But to their credit, the Cahills hold their own, and then some, alongside two of the region's most respected acoustic players.
In particular, fiddler Darcy Cahill plays with a sort of measured looseness that's perfectly suited to the genres. She's rarely flashy and not quite a virtuoso. But her licks fairly ripple with personality and charm. For his part, Dale Cahill provides a sturdy rhythmic foundation on guitar and, when called upon, unfurls lean and lively melodic runs.
But the real treat on both records is often Rossi. Whether on fiddle, banjo or mandolin, the veteran plays with guile and charisma. Of the two albums, Irish is predictably the better showcase for him. Friskier than its elegant counterpart, the album's collection of reels and jigs allows for some especially fine mando work — very often paired with equally buoyant fiddle play from Cahill, as on the classic "Whiskey Before Breakfast."
By comparison, Waltz is a gentler affair. That plays keenly to Darcy Cahill's strengths. She's certainly capable of keeping pace on the fiery numbers, but her easy style seems tailor-made for the languid lines afforded by a lolling 6/8 time signature. Throughout the album, her duets with Rossi — on fiddle or mandolin — are sparkling and tender.
Expertly engineered by Andre Maquera at West Street Digital, both Irish and Waltz hum with an immediacy and warmth that evoke a cozy afternoon acoustic session at a favored Irish pub. All you need is the coffee. And maybe a pint.
Waltz and Irish by Dale and Darcy are available at cdbaby.com. Dale and Darcy play the Jericho Café and Tavern this Friday, September 11, and at the Trapp Family Lodge every Saturday.