Geraldine MacGowan,
'Til the Morning Comes
(Magnetic, 1996)

Geraldine MacGowan blends contemporary and traditional songs in 'Til the Morning Comes, a CD that demonstrates well the subtle ranges of expression of MacGowan's husky voice.

MacGowan also crosses the spectrum thematically, with songs ranging in content from the personal to the political. "Solo," with its gently descending chords, opens the CD like opening the door on a sunrise delicately laced with clouds as the lyrics suggest wistfulness combined with wonder. It's a good opening for the album, setting a tone of open expectation.

A little later, wailing uillean pipes spike the tension in "Any Mick'll Do," an angry song about society's scapegoats. You get the distinct impression that MacGowan is singing through metaphorically clenched teeth. MacGowan meets Graceland on another openly politically song "Boy is a Nation," an anti-apartheid song that gives a face to the cause.

MacGowan's voice takes on a remote, eerie tone for three traditional songs: "The Blacksmith," "She Moved Through the Fair" and "May Morning Dew." The first two have moody musical accompaniment and the last is sung a cappella, and all effectively convey a sense of being in another time and place. The fourth traditional song, "Rosemary Lane," is livelier with full accompaniment and just as effective.

MacGowan's vocals are warm and appealing, and she is supported by a talented complement of musicians: Chris Jones (acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, backing vocals), Annie Grace and Kai Wingenfelder (backing vocals), Brian O'Connor (flute/whistle), Michael McGoldrick (uillean pipes), Johannes Eichenauer (keyboards), Frieder Gottwald (bass) and Michael Witzel (percussion, Mapex drums, Meinl cymbals).

The CD is beautifully cohesive, although the skimpy liner notes left me just a tad unsatisfied. Still, 'Til the Morning Comes is a worthwhile addition to the collection of any Celtic music enthusiast.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 22 November 2003

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