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Thursday, October 24, 2013

CD Review: Mary Coughlan Live

Mary Coughlan (vocals); other musicians are Brian Connor; Ciaran Wilde: Conor Barry;
James Delaney; Pawel Grudzien.  Instruments not listed but I heard tenor sax, keys, guitar, trumpet, pedal steel guitar.  Album recorded live in Galway, Sydney and The Olympia Theatre, Dublin
(Review by Ann Alex)
Yet another CD that I feel privileged to review.  I was given this album at the Mary Coughlan concert at Caedmon last week.  I had gone there with some trepidation as Mary Coughlan is a sort of ex-folkie so I didn’t know what to expect.  What a marvellously powerful performance – I couldn't help but warm to this woman’s strength and enthusiasm, and the CD is no disappointment either. 
Mostly sad songs, as at the concert (quote from Mary ‘I don’t do many happy songs’) but worthwhile songs sung with such power, such as Magdalen Laundry, about the Irish laundries where ‘wayward’ girls were made to do laundry for the Catholic church, with its note-bending pedal steel guitar accompaniment.  My Land Is Too Green, a searing criticism of Ireland, is similarly powerful in Mary’s dark, bluesy voice.
 The mood is lighter for the jazzy opening track, Cole Porter’s Laziest Girl, and for Nobody’s Business done as a danceable tango, and tender for Jacques Brel’s Hearts. Other notable tracks (all 16 are notable really) are Heartbreak Hotel, done as a slow ballad nothing like Elvis’s version, so the listener gets a chance to notice the lyrics, for example the graphic ‘ the desk clerk’s dressed in black’.  This lady certainly knows how to choose good songs, and because this album is recorded live, we get the immediate feel of audience response.  And the musicians are superb, skilled tenor sax and trumpet and flowing keys, with a jazzy feel on most tracks even though just a few tracks are actually jazz tunes.  The CD is rounded off with a heartfelt version of Joy Division’s song of faded love Love Will Tear Us Apart.
I suppose this album was released ages ago, on Hail Mary Records (get the joke?)   
Ann Alex.

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