Mick Hanly,
Free to Run
(Am Cheoil, 2004)

Mick Hanly is one of our greatest songwriters and performers, but you could pass him on any street in Ireland and not realize it. He has written fantastic selling songs for others, performed with the best in Ireland and played in small pubs to small crowds, but Hanly is a gentleman and a genius of music. On this 10-track album he packs in a cornucopia of sounds, sentiments and class.

Opening in country style with "Still Haven't Managed," he will get your toes tapping and you mind alert to the lyrics. I really loved "Birthmark," a song about growing up, friendship and nostalgia. Listen to it and relive your youth if you are the wrong side of 40. His classic "Past the Point of Rescue" is here, too, for those who like to trace a hit back to its roots and writer.

This is truly a CD to bring you back to the past and bring the past to 2004. Remember the Moving Hearts song "All I Remember"? It was another classic from Hanly's pen and he reworks it here to perfection. Opening with a choir of children singing an old school song, he tells it as it was in the Ireland of the Christian Brothers and life in the dance halls, Morris Minors and the like. Did you stand like John Wayne by the wall?

This is the album to seek out this Christmas. Give to your partner to remind them of love and the past. Give it to your children to show that we grew up with real music. Ah heck, keep it to yourself, it's too good to give away!

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 22 January 2005