Noel Lenaghan,
A Long Time Since
(Leo, 2008)

A Long Time Since, an album of 11 tracks performed and written by Noel Lenaghan, opens with a lovely track called "Biddy Butler's Finger" that has a very traditional sound and, if heard on the radio, you might imagine it has been around for years. It is about a real person who lived and panned for gold in New Zealand in the early 1800s, giving it a real feeling of authenticity.

"Come on Home Annie" is another great track enhanced by Anto Warde's banjo intro. The lyrics are first class and the delivery faultless, if somewhat tricky. Things are more personal and yet traditional sounding on "A Long Time Since." This evocation of an older time is beautifully written interweaving townland with ancient fables.

Lenaghan is a master at intriguing intros followed by almost tongue-twisting lyrics delivered like an old Percy French comic song. "Forever Sinking" is a prime example of this. His flowing lyricism continues in the poetic language of "Mackerel Sky"; one has to applaud a writer who makes musical poetry out of such disparate items as a "silvery moon, champagne sun, plastic bags and the swollen lover" in a single song. He also has a wonderful sense of humour and mischief, and nowhere is this more evident than on "You're Not from Our Street." In this intriguing track he brings us Susana, who is apparently swept off her feet by "a Mayo farmer, the spud-fed charmer" and ends up with "paisti ("children" for the non-Gaelic speakers) pleasin."

I was captivated by "A Million Tears." Again, the intro was intriguing, followed by some heartfelt lyrics telling that all-too-familiar tale of emigration. Some of his poetic leanings may be gleaned from the beautifully titled "Silence is a Delicate Thing."

His ability to make music and song from the everyday or even mundane makes this album hum. Lenaghan leaves us in "Mrs Kelly's Kitchen" as we recall the joys of musical gatherings and leaves us waiting for the return of this talented artist with another offering. The mixture of wry humour and romance is the bedrock of this CD.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

20 December 2008

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