A Review of the CD
by Martin Donnelly

by Martin Donnelly


This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 6/03

There is much in this album to commend it. Martin, from Northern Ireland, is a more-than-decent singer, and has surrounded himself with very capable musicians, including the famous and classy Henry McCullough. All the musicians manage deliver in fine style, especially Maire Breathnach (on fiddle and viola) for whom this album is something of a personal triumph.

So the thing that puzzles me is this: why did I not enjoy this CD a bit more than I did? After all, his first album got seemingly some good reviews, and one senses that this is a writer teeming with ideas that will find their expression in songs.

His songs are not obvious: there is a slightly mysterious quality to them, and I like that fact. They deal with a variety of subjects, but just beneath the surface of most of them seems to be his theme of coming to terms with our mortality. Almost WELCOMING it, indeed. He has nice turn of phrase and shows real insight into the Human Condition.

But the truth is that melodically the songs don't really grab me, apart from Track 10 "Old Friend", and there, it was in no small measure due to the sterling performance by Ms Breathnach. And, that is sad, for (to state the obvious), melody is half of ANY song. His melodies are not unmusical: just somewhat formulaic.

The other song that made an impression was "Everything Will Be Alright" a truly profound lyric added to a not-untuneful melody. For his next album, I look forward to Martin really following the oldest custom in the Folk Tradition: that is to set his own lyrics to the plethora of fine traditional tunes there are out there.

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