Eleanor McEvoy,
Special Edition
(Market Square, 2003)

Eleanor McEvoy is perhaps best known for writing and performing the title track of one of the folk icon albums of the 1990s called "A Woman's Heart." Many people who bought that CD and were blown away by the track thought McEvoy was another of the hundreds of great folk singers of the era. Those people were surprised to find a much more rock-oriented performer when they sought out her solo albums or live shows.

After getting over that initial shock, this Irish performer in the mould of Jennifer Warnes and Michelle Shocked amassed a legion of new fans and brought people who saw folk music as a rehash of old sentiments and gentle lullabies to a realisation that there is much more music to be experienced and enjoyed.

The current release was originally produced on the Geffen label in the early 1990s. Now, McEvoy has added four new tracks, bringing the total to 17, plus a remaster and an explanatory booklet with lyrics.

The songs on offer are at times heart-rending, as McEvoy seems to write very much from feelings of loss and heartbreak. Listening to "Go Now," I wondered if the bedsit and student accommodation dwellers of the 21st century have albums that they play over and over again like we played Leonard Cohen. If so, I am sure that McEvoy would fit the bill. Her songs are intelligent, heartfelt and moving.

She picks up the pace with "It's Mine" and provides us with another great song. My favourite track on the CD is "Leave Her Now," which I would love to see as a single release. The subject matter is extremely sad but should be sung because so many people find release in music no matter how deep and personal the loss.

The album gives us the great "A Woman's Heart," not only in the original but also in Spanish as "Corazon de Mujer," and I believe it could be a hit all over again if released as a single in that language.

It's easy to ponder the luck of a singer-songwriter after a phenomenal hit like "A Woman's Heart," but sometimes we forget that such a classic can only come from talent, hard work and a long apprenticeship. McEvoy has that pedigree. She began piano lessons at age 4, violin at 6. She played in the Irish Youth Orchestra and spent four years as violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra. She also spent years in often windswept but always beautiful County Wexford, so now we know the secret of the instant hit and overnight success -- damned hard work.

This CD is a tribute to that work and contains more gems of great music and lyrics than a Kimberly diamond mine.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 3 January 2004