A Review of the CD
"Speaking With The Angel"
by Mary Black

"Speaking With The Angel"
by Mary Black

Copyright 2000
Curb Records
Nashville, TN 37203

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Calling upon an array of songwriters, Mary Black's latest release uses these lyrical talents to sensitively thread through matters of personal acknowledgment, co-existence, healing and renewal. Enjoining Black's marvelous vocal ability to these songs makes this one of the year's best offerings as she has the ability to both delicately take a song under her wing and also powerfully seize a tune and make it her own. She displays both gifts here.

She employs Dougie McLean's songwriting accomplishments twice with "Turning Away" and "Broken Wings." Rod Quinn's rhythmic percussion and drum work drives her version of "Turning Away." "Broken Wings" has a velvety backing, with guitar, double bass, whistle, Uileann pipes and organ all subtlely elevating the tune's beauty.

"Cut By Wire," utilizes the tune "Lord Franklin." A relationship reminiscence, Black sings:

Steve Cooney's prayerful "Bless The Road" continues the relationship theme. With a young adult about to leave home and enter the world, Black softly sings: Cooney's bouncy and upbeat "Message of Love" is one of worldly and personal resurrection. Black sings: Recently covered by Lucy Kaplansky of Cry Cry Cry, "Speaking with the Angel," was written by Ron Sexsmith for his infant son. Part plea, part prayer, part admonition, the song depicts the innocence of a baby, one yet to be molded by the good and bad of the outside world. Black sings: Black also offers a delectable version of the traditional tune "I Live Not Where I Love," displaying powerful yet restrained vocal strength and clarity.

Sting's "Fields of Gold" is a bonus track. Black slows down the melody of her version, utilizing her voice first and foremost to carry the tune.

This is not a celtic music release per se--Black's utilizes musicians proficient in instruments often associated with the celtic sound but this release is more a compilation of songs upon which Black applies her trademark exquisite vocals. In my book, that's more than good enough.

Black is backed by Donal Lunny on guitar, bouzouki, electric bouzouki and backing vocals; Bill Shanley on acoustic guitar, electric guitar and backing vocals; Rod Quinn on drums and percussion; James Blennerhasset on double bass and electric bass; Liam O'Flynn on whistle and Uileann pipes; Steve Cooney on guitar, didjeridu, percussion and double bass; Pat Crowley on keyboards, electric piano, Hammond and accordion and backing vocals; Brendan Power on harmonica; Frank Gallagher on low whistle, viola and fiddle; Alvin Sweeney on backing vocals; Ciaran Tourish on fiddle; Nollaig Casey on fiddle; Brian Dunning on flutes; Paddy Cole on clarinet; Laoise Kelly on harp; Liam Bradley on tambourine and drums; Lloyd Byrne on percussion; Noel Bridgeman on percussion and backing vocals; Liam Bradley on backing vocals; Liam O. Moanlai on backing vocals; and Colin Dunne with dancing feet.

Track List:

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