Mickey MacConnell,
Joined Up Writing
(Spring, 2000)

From the opening flute sound to the final chord on track 11, this album will entrance you ... unless you're powered by a heart of stone. Mickey MacConnell may be better known as the writer of "Only Our Rivers Run Free," but listen to this CD and be awakened to yet another great Irish songwriter.

"Lambeg Drummer" is one of the best songs that I have heard about the polarisation of faiths in Northern Ireland. It is all the more effective for being a love song. It recounts the story of a couple meeting on vacation and mourning the fact that, if their Christian names were different, they might have a life together.

MacConnell has a gift for making an epic song from the everyday events of everyday lives, and the transformation of those people by events. The best example has to be "Absent Friends." We are all so well aware (or should be, anyway) of the tale of the famous football game at Christmas in 1914. MacConnell gives us a new slant on that event in a song written by his brother.

My favourite song on the album is one that would be wonderful to hear without knowing the title. On "The First Good Friday" he gives us a marvelous tale of the betrayal and death of Jesus Christ through the chat of two countrymen discussing it without the prejudice of religion. His friend Tom Reid adds his voice to this track.

His story of the old reporter on "Boys of the Bye Line Brigade" has that touch of authenticity for anyone who has had even a peripheral brush with the provincial newspaper.

This writer's work has been greatly influenced by the "troubles" of Ireland but his songs reflect that there are those who suffer on all sides. "Follow the Flag" is an excellent example of this. "The Little Drummer Boy" is a fascinating song that uses the story of the drummer boys of the old days to remind us of the influence of the poets and singers on public opinion and the fear of these people experienced by those in power.

He looks at the plight of our senior citizens in his song "Maggie Johnston," which will doubtlessly remind everyone of someone. Few will really listen to "Angel of Mercy" without thinking more deeply on how our lives are influenced by others. The lady of the song is giving up the good life to help the poor in Africa but that compassion brings misery to the boy who loves her.

You can hear some of the songs in full on his website but, beware, if you listen to them you will move heaven and earth to get the full album.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 7 May 2005

[ visit the artist's website ]