Johnny McEvoy,
(Dolphin, 2007)

Many will be familiar with Johnny McEvoy; we grew up and matured with his extraordinary output at a time when songwriters were not given their proper respect.

We often forget that Johnny is a songwriter par excellence. This comes about mainly because we wrongly assume his biggest hits, like most of the early folk revival, were traditional songs. I suppose this is the most double-edged compliment we can give a writer. We accept that his work is good enough to have stood the test of centuries but do not acknowledge it was written a few weeks ago.

With the release of this fantastic new three-CD collection, I reckon we can acknowledge our debt to him.

Over the 59 tracks on offer on these three CDs, older listeners can relive our younger days while the new folk audiences get the chance to hear a maestro in his early days. The albums are reissues of songs that may only have been available up to now on vinyl or cassette; as such they offer a welcome opportunity to revitalize old record collections.

Listening to tracks like "Those Brown Eyes," "The Boston Burglar" and "The Gypsy," we are transported to a time when we were rediscovering Irish music but unwittingly witnessing the rebirth of the troubadour and the broadside ballad, as McEvoy wrote and sang of the cares of the day.

As well as his own compositions we get the unique McEvoy interpretation of traditional songs and the works of contemporary composers. Rehearing these songs, one is struck by the simple, unadorned delivery. He is not courting controversy, he does not reimagine other people's work, he does not rely on political or other connotations to build an audience. Like his live performances, McEvoy gives us good songs, simply arranged and sung as only a true talent can offer. Now you have a chance to own three classic collections in one set.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

1 December 2007

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