Music Roundup

By Louise Carroll
December / January 2005

Critic’s Pick

Eleanor McEvoy

Early Hours

Eleanor McEvoy is best known for the lovely ballad “A Woman’s Heart” from over a decade ago, but her finest work has just arrived. The thirteen songs on Early Hours wrap the listener up in graceful acoustic guitar strums, soft trumpets and piano, all led expertly by this Irishwoman’s strong and clear voice.

One of the best songs, “Ave Maria,” is an interesting meditation on the Catholic Church’s role in Ireland today, but even if you aren’t following the messages, just listening to the music is a pure pleasure. Part of McEvoy’s brilliance is the simplicity of her music, she never over-sings or over-indulges. She’s smart enough to trust her song-writing and she stays true to her music. After hearing Early Hours, one can only hope to see her in concert and enjoy the music live.

Luka Bloom

Before Sleep Comes

In this beautiful homage to the Land of Nod, Bloom was inspired by a style of guitar playing that was forced upon him. Suffering a bout of tendonitis last year, he could no longer strum, but was only allowed to `pluck’ the acoustic guitar. This nine-song album, which includes both traditional and original songs, is the result. These soft lullabies are sung so intimately, you’d think he was there singing to you.

Sharon Shannon and Friends

Libertango

Sharon Shannon and her signature instrument, the accordion, are back with a new album after four years. For Libertango Shannon collaborated with recording guests including the late Kristy MacCall, Sinéad O’Connor and Pauline Scanlon. As a whole, the album relies strongly on the traditional’s traditional — plenty of jigs and reels. But, unexpectedly, the album closes with “What You Make It” a rap song with Marvel and Lady K.

Snow Patrol

Final Straw

Northern Ireland has produced a brilliant young rock band. Snow Patrol’s lyrics are great, their live show is energetic and their songs are tremendously catchy, without selling out any of the dark moments that permeate the album. I defy anyone to listen to “Chocolate” or “Run” more than once and not belt them out later that day. Happily, these are outstanding rock songs, so you won’t mind.

A Girl Called Eddy

A Girl Called Eddy

This girl is in fact called Erin Moran from birth, and her debut release is a dreamy acoustic album with smoky vocals. She is so influenced by the 1960s that you’d almost think that the album has been broken out of a time capsule. But ballads like “Tears All Over Town” and “Kathleen” live up to the best of the singer-songwriters from the folk era.

Tom Waits

Real Gone

The growler and his Irish-American wife Kathleen Brennan have written and produced Waits’ first album without any piano music. Instead, this 15-track record amalgamates influences from Jamaica, the blues, African and funk music. A great record if you have adventurous tastes. ♦

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