Ciaran Dorris,
(Greentrax, 2010)

The theme of emigration and hopes of going home shines through in so much of the folk genre, but Ciaran Dorris finds a wonderful new voice to express those dreams, especially on "The Emigrant's Dream," as he paints a vivid picture of what leaving means and what going back might mean. He uses some hackneyed phrases, but they fit so well into the composition that we actually enjoy them all the more.

The only track not from his own pen is "The Gentle Maid of Spancil Hill." Yes, I hear you, that is not a traditional song. In fact, it is Dorris's expert grafting of two well-known tunes into a wonderful new song and giving each his own arrangement. So, in a way, he does compose all the tracks on offer.

"Riverdale Roads" sees a more rock-oriented rendition that will appeal to yet another audience. He shows his folk credentials on the poignant anti-war song, "Killing Time," recounting a story of a soldier remembering his friend killed in Iraq. He brings the genre right up to date with references to his blog, but the tale resonates through centuries of war and the individual's price in conflict.

Two more lovely personal songs follow. "Hometown Goodbye" is for Annie and "The Road" is for his Mum. As with all great compositions, these songs written for individuals have strong resonances for most listeners in their own lives and are all the better for this.

You can never go wrong with a waltz, and here we get more reminiscences on "Old Time Waltz." His closing track, "Ghosts on Glasgow Green," is a haunting song about his life in that city, and you can almost see the swirls of cold mist.

Ciaran Dorris is a talent to note, and I for one look forward to hearing much more of his songs of natural storytelling.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

20 November 2010

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