Johnny Duhan,
The Voyage
(independent, 2005)

Johnny Duhan has been writing great songs for years but The Voyage, released in 2005, is the first album of his that I have heard and I want to hear lots more.

For many of us Christy Moore recorded the definitive version of Duhan's "The Voyage." Not so, this is the top version. I dare anyone to hear this singer sing his song, with that fantastic music backing, and go back to any other version.

This entire album celebrates families and life and, as such, could have been dull and pious. In fact it is far from it. This is music magic and inspirational.

My favourite track has to be "Aoibheann & Alanna," which appears to be a hymn of thanksgiving for two babies. The lyrics and the instruments blend to perfection with Duhan's voice that cannot fail to melt the coldest heart. The theme recurs on "When You Appeared," but the beat is increased and has a jarring refrain about how sad life goes on outside even as we experience joy.

Few pop songs declaring undying love can hold a candle to the beautiful "Cornerstone." This is the mature love song of real life. It will strike chords in the lives of any real person who has experienced real love. Everyone should learn and sing it.

Another song from Johnny's pen that has been a hit for others is "Trying to Get the Balance Right." The title tells it all. This is life set to music. Another favourite of mine is the haunting "Woken Gently," relating a birth he witnessed as a child that has wonderful echoes of Bethlehem for him.

All is not sweetness and light in life, and Duhan reflects this in his songs, too -- especially on the track "In Our Father's Name." The album ends with "The Room" as he recalls his days as a struggling songwriter and the role of love in that struggle. As we listen to this album we give thanks that he continued to struggle and produced such real-life gems.

by Nicky Rossiter
24 December 2005

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