James Cramer,
The Lights of Lisnaskay
(Crashed, 2012)

The best stuff comes in small packages, they say. This short CD -- a mere 21 minutes and seven tracks -- appears to prove the adage.

Based on a book of poetry by a postman from County Fermanagh, one would naturally expect a mixture of nostalgia, social comment and good English, and one is not disappointed. This especially so when the lyrics are put to music and delivered with passion and feeling by James Cramer.

The title track is a beautiful opener, setting a scene that will permeate the album with its heartfelt words reflecting the emigrants dreams and worries. "Mullyneeny Hill" is a lovely evocation of time and place, set to a jaunty tune that will have live audiences tapping and hopefully singing along as it gains popularity.

We get drawn into history of a more widely known event on "Civil War (The Town of Broken Hearts)." The subtitle tells it all, and Cramer performs it with understated feeling.

It's back to a more light-hearted style on "Oul Joe," and it will again have the toes tapping. We get some of the singer's own lyrics on "The Road to Kinawley" -- this track bodes well for when he runs out of poems and gets into his own compositions.

This short album makes up in quality what some may see as a deficit of quantity, and it does what it sets out to do in bringing poetry to a wider audience to great effect.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

23 February 2013

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