Matt Murphy,
Songs at Random
(Alzheimer Society of Ireland, 2009)

Matt Murphy and friends have produced an album of wonderful songs old and new that will not only benefit the Alzheimer Society of Ireland but also the listener, casual or otherwise.

The arrangements and production on Songs at Random are never tangled up in cute adornment or over elaborate backing. These are strong songs, simply sung, and are all the more powerful for that.

The CD shows Murphy's range and demonstrates again that not all our good performers need to be professional -- there is room for the excellent singer with the day job who performs for fun and enjoyment. The album contains a batch of songs that for the most part are familiar and as such you will know what to expect. These include "Raglan Road," "Ringsend Rose" and "Carrigfergus."

The Wexford Male Voice Choir joins Murphy to great effect on tracks like "You Raise Me Up" and "Steal Away," and together they can raise the roof. Being a Wexford performer, he of course must give vent to the regulars such as "Boolavogue" and "By the Streams of Bunclody," and he does them proud.

Showing that he is not, as they say, behind the door when it comes to writing, he gives us new lyrics to "Galway Bay" as "Castlebridge Song," and in this he provides a potted history of his native village on the Slaney and Sow. The opening song on the album might be a wonderful anthem for the Alzheimer charity -- "Far Away a Light is Burning."

Matt Murphy is ably assisted with musicians and singers from his immediate area on a CD that could stand up in Castlebridge or California and prove that great music is both local and universal.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

11 July 2009

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