Marc Gunn,
Happy Songs of Death
(Mage, 2009)

It was G.K. Chesterton who said of the Irish, "All their wars are merry and all their songs are sad." Here comes Marc Gunn to add his tuppenceworth to that philosophy with an album that may not be exclusively Irish in origin, but it adds the observation that we offer a happy view of death, if only in our songs.

Opening with the old Clancy Brother hit "Isn't It Grand, Boys?" he sets the tone using the less sedate lyrics of this traditional song regarding a wake. Other well known offerings include perennials like "Jug of Punch," "Foggy Dew" and "Waxies Dargle."

Gunn adds a few new funereal anthems from his own pen such as "Won't You Come With Me" and "Red, Red & Black." Gunn gives these songs about sad occasions a rollicking delivery that would have the corpse tapping his toes if played at a traditional wake.

Some purists will balk at the arrangements on tracks like "The Foggy Dew," but hey, these are evolving songs so give them a listen with an open mind. This is an enjoyable album, but I think it will be more popular at concerts than at wakes.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

18 February 2012

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