The name is new and unusual. The music is a combination of familiar and new. The effect is magical.
Through 11 tracks this new group, fronted by Shireen Russel and Reidin O'Flynn, takes us on a journey into the recent past via nostalgia, social comment, tragedy and some fun. Opening with "Granny," they remind us of those great old days when the fair maids only ventured into the snug of a public house on a lovely lilting track. "Age Song" is a very well-crafted song that is delivered extremely well with a lovely, solid backing; it delves into the ritual of writing messages on a birthday card.
Not all the tracks on the album are original but for those that do not come from their own pens they have a knack of doing two things. On "River," they give us that too-seldom-recorded Bill Stains song that is excellent both in content and delivery. They follow this directly with the traditional song "Siuil A Ruin" and make a hackneyed track very much their own.
The Famine is remembered in two top class tracks. The first is a spoken-word piece that will deliver the meaning of half a decade of suffering in one minute, 39 seconds better than many a lecture or book chapter. The other song of the Famine, "The Silent People," takes its name from the book on the subject by Walter Macken, a tome often forgotten because it was fiction, but it gives a moving portrait of what it must have been like. The song is unusual in that it has an upbeat rhythm but it tells a sad tale and takes the rhyme associated with the plague and transposes it to the famine.
My favourite song on the album has a lovely title that could become a florist's advertising slogan. How many of us have sent "Sorry Flowers"? The flower motif remains on "Sweet Rose" and the interesting insert note tells us that Shireen represented New York State in the Rose of Tralee in 2002.
"Old Road" reminds us that we are losing so much "we don't spend the time together like we used to, we don't gather at the crossroads to dance, we seem to have forgotten how to laugh." That would be a tragedy, to lose that. The CD closes with a beautiful song called "September." It combines thoughtful words that ring just right with a nice tune. The inspiration is how they interweave the beautiful "Wild Mountain Thyme" into the song.
I have been racking my brain to recall who the singing of Reidin O'Flynn reminds me of, especially on "Sorry Flowers." It has just hit me. She sounds exactly like Adrienne Johnston of that seminal group The Johnstons. If anyone heard Adrienne's solo work they will find an eerie echo in this young lady.
This is an important debut album and I am already looking forward to the follow-up. There is a real feeling of a love of the music coming through on the album. I will watch the roses in Tralee more closely in future in case there is another emerald gem waiting to glitter.