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Reviews

Finbar Furey Finbar Furey
Album: Don't Stop This Now
Label: BMG UK
Tracks: 14
Website: http://www.finbarfurey.com

Don’t Stop This Now is being marketed as a new album, but it’s actually a repackaging for the UK market of his latest album Paddy Dear, which was originally released in Ireland last April to mark his 70th birthday. The repackage includes some new tracks and a live-concert DVD filmed last May at Vicar Street, Dublin. The DVD sees him performing some of his classic hits including The Lonesome Boatman, Sweet Sixteen and The Green Fields Of France, as well as five of the Paddy Dear album tracks, and demonstrates just why Finbar continues to be such a major live attraction. As regards the main (audio) CD, it’s fair to point out that two tracks have been inexplicably dropped from the original issue (The Ghost Of Kelly Dancing and a cover of He’ll Have To Go) while four new tracks have been added. These comprise the wistful title song, the 1994 composition Annabelle (about a friend of Finbar’s mother), Co-exist (a moody eastern-inflected banjo-accompanied commentary), and the more gently rolling Hail Rain Or Snow; the latter being one of a pair of songs to feature Finbar’s daughter Áine on vocals.

Although Finbar originally came to prominence as a champion of the uilleann pipes (see my review elsewhere on this site of the new BGO reissue of the early Finbar & Eddie Furey duo albums), he’s also a dab hand on the whistle and banjo (both of which he plays on this new album, also guitar), and latterly he’s increasingly regarded for his powerful songwriting – of which there are a dozen prime examples here. Finbar sings of freedom and peace on Sweet Liberty Of Life, and of love and affection on Paddy Dear – always with true conviction. A few of the new songs, like Michael Power, I Remember You Singing This Song, Ma and the title song, may just feel a touch over-sentimental (though in the latter two cases, the arrangement contributes most to this impression); and yet, Finbar’s fresh and masterly treatment of traditional session staple (and the album’s lone non-original) The Galway Shawl sidesteps this trap with flying colours. Finbar always wins you over, for his humanity, and the intensity of his conviction, are mirrored in the quality of his singing – tender and vulnerable yet trusting and knowing; husky and smoky; feeling every word and nuance, and always wonderfully close-up and intimate. (A close comparison would be Christy Moore, although each singer is unmistakably his own man.) And what better way to close the album than with an original pipe tune, Lament For John.…

Throughout this disc, Finbar’s consummate and wide-ranging talent can’t be faulted – but I do wish BMG had left those two original tracks intact on this repackage, as there was plenty of spare space on the CD; now his UK fans won’t get to hear them, which would be a shame.

David Kidman