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Karin Grandal-Park & Karl Robins Karin Grandal-Park & Karl Robins
Album: The Snows They Melt The Soonest
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

This is a very cohesive piece of work, put together by a cast of able and experienced musicians, however, the out and out star of this collection of songs is Karin Grandal-Park.

Karin Grandal-Park has it all as far as folk music is concerned. She is a self assured vocalist with vast experience in the field of jazz. Her voice is strong, full, emotional and she sings with great intelligence and sensitivity. Her pronounciation is excellent as her vowels are well developed and she sings on them too instead of hanging onto consonants. However, she makes great use of well clipped consonants. All these 'good habits' go towards producing a quality sound.

While her technical abilities are well honed, Grandal-Park is also a wonderful lyricist whose songs make sense. The writing is strong in every one of her compositions with a clear beginning, middle and end. This is a bonus on top of the other talents she has. Her songs on this record are genuinely goose-bump inducing for both the melodic and lyrical content. She is also a courageous lyricist who does not shy away from the issues of the day. This, in a world of milk and water, chart topping, focus group approved 'indie' songsters is something to be admired, encouraged and protected. By the very definition of what folk music is, Grandal-Park has nailed it.

'Hey Mister' is a standout song. Written about a woman who has to 'work' to keep body and soul together and a roof over her children's heads, it is deeply moving. Grandal-Park is unflinching as she puts forward this woman's plight but also in her representation of the children's voice as they observe the domestic situation around them. It is a deep, dark, beautiful and affecting piece of writing.

'Strong in The Broken Places' is another example of the mature and intricate songwriting on this album. The theme of this song is domestic violence and how women cope brilliantly while enduring adverse situations and indeed how women can leave adverse situations too. The mandolin accompaniment by Mike Harding on this song is beautiful. It supports the message of the song very tastefully, never once interfering with the words, which are so deep, moving and insightful.

Without a doubt, this is a fine piece of work that Grandal-Park can be very proud of. All that's left to say is, 'Thank you for the music!'

Laura Mulcahy