Tim Dennehy,
The Blue Green Door
(Sceilig, 2002)

Tim Dennehy has a voice that will seduce the most casual listener into a web of traditional and original songs on The Blue Green Door. He has a hypnotic sound that can make any song sound great, but he has a head start here as the songs are brilliant right from the beginning.

"The Parted Years" is from his own pen, but when you listen to it you will imagine having known it for years. It is a beautiful song dedicated to his late mother and is packed with images that anyone can relate to. "We shared the Kimberley dipped in tea." ("Kimberley" is a biscuit).

Dennehy has a wonderful ear for a poem that will become a beautiful song either with music added or simply sung as sean-nos.

What I particularly enjoy about this album is that, although Dennehy has an obvious love for the tradition, he is not pedantic. If a song is good he will include it. This is evident on the rollicking "Wrestling with Rats" (subtitled "The Waterford Boys"). It comes from the tradition but gained its popularity in London music halls. It is a comic song with a great set of lyrics.

Taking a poem by James Fenton, a professor of poetry at Oxford, he constructs a classic folk song. This is top class material taken to heart and turned out better than the sum of its parts. The lyrics -- to be expected from a poet -- are superb. "It's the loveliest of the songbirds and I'm glad it's come this way." Every aspect of this track is magic down to the harmony vocals from Aine Derrane.

He returns to the Irish tradition for "Boating on Lough Ree." It was composed by John Keegan Casey, who lived in the first half of the 19th century and is all the more poignant as it tells a true tale of sad loss.

My favourite among favourites is the title track, although on the line up it is called "No More." The words come from Patrick MacGill, who is perhaps best known for magnificent books like "Children of the Dead End." The original poem comes from a collection called Songs of the Dead End and recalls the sad days of evictions and displacement that "forever stilled the evening latch."

"Memorial" can be heard as a simple and beautiful song recalling childhood. Read the background notes and it becomes a much more intense piece as we learn that it recalls Tim's brother who lost a fight with serious illness and died at the age of 17.

Many of the tracks on this album are sad but the overall effect of the CD is more uplifting. How can you feel sad -- whatever the subject matter -- when you hear a man with a great voice give you incredibly intelligent lyrics accompanied by beautiful tunes? This is a winner, especially when you add a well-produced 30-page booklet of lyrics, background and illustrations.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 30 October 2004