Mary Sue Twohy,
Songs to Hang on Stars
(Azalea City, 2006)

Songs to Hang on Stars is the latest album from folk singer-songwriter Mary Sue Twohy (pronounced too-ee). And it's a good 'un, with 11 songs, eight of which are originals. The other three are Emily Dickinson poems put to music by Mary Sue.

Twohy's writing concerns the creation of exquisite, delicately beautiful songs that ache into being through her fine, soft, soprano voice. The album opens with the title track, and it is a great indication of the overall tone of the record. Shimmering vocal harmonies between Mary and Maura Kennedy wrap around the filigree of Pete Kennedy's guitar.

"Missionary Ridge" tells the tale of a Civil War soldier and his love, or rather the ghosts of both. The song has a march tune undercurrent that carries it along nicely, while also giving it a Civil War feel. The lyrical narrative is haunting and hauntingly sung.

The three Dickinson poems -- "Snowing," "Twas the Old Road" and "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" -- are wonderfully arranged. "Snowing," which opens with the lines "It's snowing inside the bride's veil / Her tiny little birds are silent / They all went to sleep / They are so sweet," is an ideal vehicle for Mary Sue's voice in its full-range glory. With minimal instrumentation, the song is an economic gem.

Songs to Hang on Stars is a wonderful showcase for Mary Sue Twohy. Her writing and singing, as examples of contemporary folk, are as good as any out there.

by Sean Walsh
22 July 2006

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