Jim Hanlon,
The Cormier Sessions: Vol. II
(independent, 2015)

It was a delight for me to find this second volume of the wonderful Cormier Sessions from Jim Hanlon so soon after enjoying Vol. I.

The latest CD includes some possibly more familiar tracks but each is given the inimitable Hanlon blas to great effect. Having said that, the album opens with a beautiful story song that was new to me called "Peter Amberly," about arrival in New Brunswick. Hanlon then segues into "Sam Hall" with a lovely unaccompanied version that brings new life to the old song.

Then we are off to that more familiar element in his songs with "Greenland Whale Fisheries," and we can almost feel the deck sway and the sea spray hit us as we relive those old adventures. A different sway will infect you on "West Country Lady" as you enter a beautiful country dance mode.

We get another strong a cappella rendition on "The Union Song" that is so reminiscent of a sea chanty as we visualise these hearty men united in labour. This theme repeats on the wonderful shanty "Maui."

From strong sentiment we move to "Tickle Cove Pond," a more light-hearted rendition that will have you joining in.

Covering songs that have been associated with legendary singers is always a great gamble, but unless singers take such chances such tunes could die out. Hanlon takes on a run with great success on "Farewell to Carlingford," "Red Rose Cafe" and "The Boston Burglar," and these tracks reflect extremely well on this performer. He then takes two seafaring folk songs and combines them to magnificent effect. Who would have thought to combine "Lady Franklin's Lament" and Stan Rogers "Northwest Passage," although both recall the same events and trials.

He rounds off a wonderful album in warmer climes with "Now is the Hour," or the "Maori Farewell."

As we listen to this CD, we live many lives captured in these songs. What greater accolade can we give the writers, performers and indeed the folk genre?

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

23 May 2015

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