Joan Coffey,
Everybody Needs One
(independent, 2004)

Joan Coffey has a style that ranges through folk, country and soul music. Her love of live performances is evident even on a studio-produced album such as this. And, as with all the best singers, her performance comes from the heart. Her strength is also obvious in composition. She wrote all 12 tracks on offer here, only one in collaboration.

Although her origins lie in a small town in southern Ireland, her experience is worldwide and her opening track, "Summer Season," refers as knowingly to Coney Island as any New York writer.

Although she has an international outlook she does not neglect her roots, and I detected her colloquial dropping of the final "g" on a number of words, giving a quirky and personal note to her performances.

Her ancestry is not denied on the album, especially on the track "Irish." As she sings "I'm coming home, I need some soul food, I need some Irish logic, I gotta be touched by tongues so quick, they gotta be Irish," she reminds us of the need to touch base with your roots every so often. "Country Song" is much quieter performance and is all the more powerful for the slow delivery, giving a flavour of the loss when someone goes. "Turning into My Mother" hangs on a very witty and observant phrase that may or may not be Irish but it is certainly true.

The most powerful track on this album is "Louise." Either it is heartfelt or Coffey is an Academy Award-class actress. She combines country and a jazz feel on another top-class track, "The Staying Kind." You can visualise the smoky bar, Coffey at a piano and a smoking cigarette as she sings.

The sleeve notes indicate that this is a album of real music and voices played on genuine instruments without recourse to computerization. In a world where it is so difficult to detect the difference, this is nice to know.

I particularly liked her witty but true copyright note: "Unauthorised copying is technically stealing and I am poor. Don't steal from the poor."

Don't steal this album because by doing so you might prevent Joan Coffey writing and performing more of these excellent songs.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 9 July 2005