With the limited amount of space at my disposal, I can't say all the things I'd like to say about this album, which was recorded at one of the landmarks of the Irish folk world, Tallaght's Embankment. Instead, I'll confine myself to a few brief observations.
Firstly, words of praise for compere Noel Ginnity, who, from the time he introduces the first item by instrumentalists James Keane, Joey Walsh and Dónal Lunny, to his last remarks, manages to convey the session's atmosphere with good humour and economy of words. What more can one ask of a compere?
I suppose my favourite track must be the delightful Sean McCarthy opus, "In Shame Love in Shame," sung softly by Olive Bayle against a mellow, nicely subdued background. Then there's Al O'Donnell's "One Morning in May," in which the traditional singer whose acceptance in Scottish folk clubs is a direct reflection of his stature, tells a story with an ancient theme.
To ensure that things don't get too melancholy, however, there's Sean McCarthy's amusing contribution, a sprinkling of humour to rival that of Shay Healy's masterpiece, during which the sharp-witted Dubliner puts into words what many of us have often felt following an over-abundance of songs about silver daggers, turtle doves, predictable notes…and, of course, the inevitable intertwining plants.
Accompanied, as usual, by Paddy Roche and Mike Crotty, Anne Byrne sings in such an uncomplicated way that it actually seems easy…which only goes to underline the extent of her talent. We 4 are as distinctive as ever—a group I enormous potential both in and out of Ireland. As for Mulvany, "The Irish Rebel" stresses the fact that nobody sings rebel songs quite so expressively as she does. Paddy Reilly's contribution is that plaintive tale of a highwayman in love, "The Curragh of Kildare."
Which only leaves Danny Doyle to mention. Danny, whose rare intensity and obvious dedication has rightly Drought him the fame these qualities deserve, sings "Mary from Dunloe" and, in sharp contrast, the title with which the LP. ends, "The Old Dun Cow," which has as its rather unlikely subject the saga of a pub fire with happy
Whether you're a tourist, an Embankment regular, or just someone interested in music generally, if you like folk even a little, there's much to appreciate in this collection.