A Review of the CD
"Sean Nos Nua"
by Sinead O'Conner

"Sean Nos Nua"
by Sinead O'Conner

Copyright 2002 - 812-2
Vanguard Records
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
ph: (310)829-9355

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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So often the title of a CD is simply the same as one of the songs, but it may have no connection to the actual genesis of the release. Not so in this case. Sinead O'Conner's choice of title has deliberately laid out her purpose with these 13 songs: to spice up the traditional with a new, old style.

And what worked best for this reviewer? "Her Mantle So Green," "Paddy's Lament," "The Moorlough Shore," and "The Parting Glass."

These are the cuts missing the echo or reverb found on some of the other songs. The instrumentation on most numbers is generally wonderful, excluding these few aforementioned bells and whistles.

"Her Mantle So Green" is remarkable because of its presentation. Its sound and rhythm easily allows one's imagination to hear it as an Appalachian or even a bluegrass tune.

A man leaving the harrowing poverty of Ireland in the 1860s for the United States opens "Paddy's Lament." Unfortunately, America is in the midst of disuniting and Irish immigrants quickly find themselves part of an even greater horror, the American Civil War. The protagonist in the song loses a leg and deeply regrets having ever left "dear old Dublin." Can the grass ever be greener than in Ireland?

"The Murlough Shore" covers the territory of lost or unrequited love, with a curious twist at the end. Also curious is that it is always the distressed but faithful woman who is willing and able to do the waiting. Who really is the stronger sex?

The ninth song, "The Parting Glass," would be an ideal choice for the closing selection. But, then again, this is an untraditional, traditional release.

Also worth noting is "Lord Baker," because O"Conner is joined solo and in harmony by Christy Moore. Plus, the lively "I'll Tell Me Ma" is given more of a percussion backing than most renditions, and it works quite well.

It may simply be my ignorance but "My Lagan Love' has a few moments of apparent electronica that had me dash over to my music system to check if it or the CD was working correctly.

Call it the tomaytoes/tomahtoes argument. I like it this way--you like it that way. Any artist certainly has the right to put his or her stamp on traditional classics. And any listener obviously has the right or like or dislike the final product. But credit should be given to any performer willing to try something different.

The majority of the offerings worked well enough to warrant a recommendation. Explore the boundaries of your own tastes on this one.

O'Conner is backed by Sharon Shannon on accordion; Alan Branch on percussion; Steve Wickham on mandolin, fiddle and banjo; Rob O Geibheannaigh on flute, whistle, banjo, strings and guitar; Kieran Kiely on whistle and accordion; Donal Lunny on bouzouki, keyboard, bodhran, bodhran bass and guitar; Cora Venus Lunny on violin and viola; Skip MacDonald on guitar; Pete Lockett on percussion; Bernard O'Neill on acoustic bass; Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie on drums, bass and piano; Abdullah Chhadeh on quanun; Professor Stretch on drum and bass programming; Nick Coplowe on Hammond; and Christy Moore on vocals.

Track List:

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