Rita Connolly,
Rita Connolly
(Tara, 1992)

(Tara, 1995)

Hop aboard! This ship is sailing to the coastline -- any coastline. Rita Connolly lifts her beautiful voice in songs of the shores and surrounding seas. Listening to these two CDs could well substitute for that long-needed escape to a tropical paradise. You can feel the rhythm of the waves upon the sand, the warmth of the sun. ... Although some of the music can be a tad heavy with the percussion, and borders a bit on '70s pop at times, both recordings offer a nice variety of music. There is some excellent solo work by Michael Buckley on soprano and tenor sax, Liam O'Flynn on uilleann pipes, Anthony Drennan on dobro, Matthew Manning on oboe, Palle Mikkelborg on horns and Helen Davies on harp.

Rita Connolly, her first CD, starts off strong with "Venezuela," a wonderful rendition of a sea chantey that is reminiscent of Meg Davis. She follows this with a fun and exciting work by cohort Shaun Davey, "Miracles." Two more traditional work songs follow: "Factory Girl" and "Same Old Man," with some wonderful harmonies. It's hard for the rest of the album to live up to this incredible start, but there is a terrific middle-eastern sounding piece called "Alice in Jericho" and a beautiful closing lullaby called "Close Your Eyes."

Valparaiso, though not quite as strong in musical content as the first, is a well-crafted collection. She reworked the traditional "The Quiet Land of Erin" quite nicely. (This listener would like to hear more of this sort of thing.) Especially nice on this album is a stirring remake of Irving Berlin's "Shakin' the Blues Away," and the hauntingly beautiful title song, "Valparaiso," an original by Connolly. These three songs alone make the album worth the price.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

Buy Rita Connolley from Amazon.com.

Buy Valparaiso from Amazon.com.