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Niamh Parsons and Graham Dunne Niamh Parsons and Graham Dunne
Album: Kind Providence
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

Since first coming across Niamh Parsons, and her then band Killera in the late 80's, I have followed her career with no little interest. Quality, and consistency have, through all that time, been her byword. On this, her newest album, with long time musical partner Graham Dunne, that notion is even more strongly reinforced, as she mines the tradition, and the bottomless pit that is contemporary songwriting to great effect. The American tradition rubs shoulders with Dublin music hall, new wine ferments in old bottles, with not an iota of character sacrificed along the way.

In their proper role, singers and musicians -no matter what genre -are meant to carry a narrative to its logical conclusion, and here, this outcome is achieved with distinction. Her and Graham's musical palette is a wide one, subtlety meeting with bold strokes, characterised principally by the power of THAT voice and its magnificence, with Graham's instrumental shadings. Not many would have thought of using nylon stringed Spanish guitar on the epic Road To La Coruna, but they did, further enhancing Maurice McGrath's descriptive piece.

She can be skittish too, when she wants, as she is on Harry O'Donovan's Sweet Daffodil Mulligan, here sung acapella, but she finds her real mettle on songs like Willie O, a night visit song, and Lappin, a song by the fine Armagh songwriter Briege Murphy. Strongly grounded in historic events, this song bristles with passion. I could go on, namechecking every track, but suffice to say that with Kind Providence Niamh and Graham have created a work of beauty and permanence which will no doubt become, in the future, a benchmark recording. That, surely, is all one could ask for. Magnificent.

Oliver P Sweeney