Phyllis Morrissey,
Woman of the Island
(Lorelei, 1995)

Phyllis Morrissey has a sweet, sentimental voice, and her album Woman of the Island puts that voice to good use. The Newfoundland singer exhibits great feeling in this collection of story songs, most of which deal in some way with her homeland's lifestyle and culture.

The title track, written by Delores Hynes, is a tribute to the older generation of island women who are the bedrock of their communities despite the daily hardships they endure. Sharon Washington's "Sleep Well, Bonnie Boy" deals with Newfoundland's fishing crisis. "Ah! The Sea" by Ged Blackmore is, obviously, a tribute to the ocean.

"Kilkelly, Ireland" is a great Irish ballad by Peter Jones that brings to life a series of letters spanning decades, the only link for a family separated by the famine. "The Last of the Great Whales," written by Andy Barnes, is a sad and beautiful testament to a species nearing extinction.

There are 12 songs on Woman of the Island, and Morrissey handles each with grace and style. The liner notes provide a nice background on each track, (although lyrics would have been nice). Still, Morrissey's songs, her voice and the stories she tells are an enchanting way to pass some time.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 December 2001