Sean Tyrrell,
(Longwalk, 2002)

Sean Tyrrell has a lovely mature voice and a wonderful presentation on Belladonna. His interpretation and singing add new life to the familiar and make us want to hear more of his new work.

"Time You Old Gypsy Man" is a poem set to music more than 20 years ago and revived for this CD. The intriguing accent on some of the lyrics gives it that added depth. "Satisfied Mind" is a song that has been covered by a number of singers. Tyrrell brings warmth to the words as they give us that message that being satisfied is better than being rich. The backing vocal by Aine Tyrrell adds a nice touch to the production.

Anyone familiar with the wild scenery of County Clare will enjoy the track "Sweet Ballyvaughan." Although written by a Scot, Judi McKeown, it could be a true anthem for any native of the Banner County. He stays in Clare for the next track using guitar, fiddle and harmonica to evoke "Midnight in the Burren."

"Faltering Flame" is one of those songs that will haunt the listener with its message of trying to fan the faltering flame of peace. Lyrics include "for our children's children we have to try" and remind us of why we seek peace even if not for ourselves.

It is surprising how indebted we are to the traveling people for some of our best songs in the folk tradition from the well-known "Gypsy Davey" to new songs like "One Starry Night," as performed here. It is a beautiful tale of the travelers' life and love "now I find love you're only lent."

Every Irish schoolchild learned a poem called "An Spailpin Fanach" by heart and probably hated it and the Irish language at the time -- the joy of compulsory learning. Tyrrell revives it set to music and if anyone who endured it as a school poem listens with an open heart and mind they will find a gem.

Tyrrell is a master at taking poetry and recitation pieces and by setting them to music he reawakens interest from poetry lovers and brings well-written words to new ears. In particular I enjoyed his adaptation of Francis Ledwidge's poem "The Dead Kings" and W.B. Yeat's classic "The Stolen Child."

With 18 tracks this is a great value CD. It will bring new life to old poems and new listeners to a musical tradition that deserves a much wider audience. The booklet included gives lyrics and background to the songs as well as performance credits.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 17 May 2003