He of the softly-spoken velvet voice and intimate, whispersome confidential tone; still unmistakable and still at the top of his game, Christy presents his first collection of new material since 2013’s Where I Come From. On early acquaintance, I may well stick my neck out and pronounce it an even finer collection – albeit an unforgivably brief one at just 36 minutes.
Christy’s obviously been digging around and about for songs that suit his special brand of delivery and whose meaning connects deep into his psyche, and once again he’s come up trumps on Lily, of that there’s no denying. Even the album’s obligatory curveball, a semi-intoned reading of Cork poet Dave Lordan’s Lost Tribe Of The Wicklow Mountains, manages (somewhat against the odds) to retain credibility here, with its ominous murmuring backdrop and potent sung coda. A major part of Christy’s charm resides in affectionately portraying nostalgia leavened with twinkle-in-the-eye humour, and these qualities are to be found in abundance, notably on the album’s title track, co-written with Wally Page, which Christy playfully describes as “an old song that was written recently”; and the album opens with a brace of gently reflective songs: Tony Small’s simple, charming Mandolin Mountain and Pádraig Stevens’ rollicking shuffle on The Tuam Beat. The wheel then turns inwards with The Gardener, an endearing slice of philosophy from the pen of Paul Doran, “the Bard Of Ballybrack”, which complements Christy’s beautifully phrased, hushed take on John “Jacko” Reilly’s inspired reworking of Green Grows The Laurel (rather wonderfully done to the tune more commonly associated with Lord Gregory). Christy’s delectable delivery is also just perfect for Declan O’Rourke’s tripping Lightning, Bird, Wind, River Man, while in contrast he brings real bite to the desperation of Peter Gabriel’s Wallflower and the justified anger of Mick Blake’s questioning Oblivious. And Ballad Of Patrick Murphy brings us John Spillane’s account of the true story of the Passage West resident and fisherman.
The air of perfection attained almost effortlessly by this album is also in no small measure due to the perfectly matched instrumental work: the ever-deft guitar picking, capped with the unobtrusively sensitive contributions of Declan Sinnott, Jimmy Higgins, Cathal Hayden, Seamie O’Dowd and Máirtín O’Connor. And then there’s the similarly impeccable presentation – booklet with honest liner notes and full song lyrics, all housed within Brian Maguire’s appealing “Lilies” gatefold painting.
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