Eleanor Shanley
& Ivan Leparr,
Another Day's Journey
(Hummingbird, 2004)

There is magic in the voice of Eleanor Shanley. There is magic in the voice of Ivan Leparr. Combine the pair and rejoice in the best of spiritually inspired music sung to perfection.

Eleanor and Ivan met in 1991, when Ivan was invited to tour Ireland with DeDannan while they were promoting a gospel music project. The connection between Eleanor and Ivan was immediately recognizable, their voices marrying perfectly. They each come from different musical backgrounds -- Ivan took his first musical steps at Baptist and Christian gatherings from a very young age, quickly establishing himself as a talented singer, songwriter and pianist, whilst Eleanor was immersed in traditional Irish music from the cradle.

In the intervening years both singers worked in their own genres and produced some excellent work. Eleanor had a great collaboration with Ronnie Drew and later an album featuring a wide range of Irish artists duetting with her.

A recent visit to Africa re-kindled her interest in African and gospel music, and she felt the time was right to call her friend Ivan. Having been a great admirer of Ivan's since their first collaboration in 1991, Eleanor felt very much at home singing with someone with such great talent and spirituality.

The album opens with a classy rendition of Bob Dylan's "Licence to Kill" and is followed by a traditional track called "Another Day's Journey," which gives the CD its title. One of my favourites here is "Too Sick to Pray."

The variety of music on offer is stunning. It ranges from Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" through Bob Marley's "Small Axe" to a song more associated with a frothy film comedy starring Doris Day, "Que Sera Sera." No one can accuse this pair of not being adventurous. My top track has to be the excellent "Drifting Too Far from the Shore."

The album has a very definite gospel and spiritual theme and feel, but any atheist who avoids it for that reason would be missing a musical experience. This is contemporary folk music at its best sung by two powerhouse performers. Added to that is a palpable feeling that the music and lyrics are not just sung but deeply felt.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 8 January 2005