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MUIREANN NIC AMHLAOIBH - Ar Uair Bhig An Lae (The Small Hours)

MUIREANN NIC AMHLAOIBH - Ar Uair Bhig An Lae (The Small Hours)
Private Label MUNA001

Muireann's voice to me is butterflies and dappled light - especially in Irish. Like butterfly wings, her vocal embellishments are so precise and at the same time so intangible. Muireann makes it completely unnecessary to, as they say, “have” any Irish. She sings a whole emotional spectrum into the notes, making the song bypass the brain and go straight for the soul. You will feel what it means.

Bó Na Leathadhairce really does sound like there’s either a one-horned cow, or someone who’s into poitín, dancing around. I don’t know if Muireann actually smiles while she sings bouncy songs like this and An Chiúrach Bhléinfhionn, but it sure sounds like it.

The harp is lovely support for Muireann's voice in 'S Ar Maidin Moch and Cois Abhann Na Séad, though I could happily listen to all of the songs without any accompaniment, as in An Clár Bog Déil.

I really feel that the songs in Irish suit Muireann best. The exceptions being The Leaving Of Limerick and The Bold Fenian Men, which isn't strange, considering their structure.

Gold Hills and A Single Thread are fine, but without the personal background, somewhat vague in their poetry to an outsider. Another Day is lovely, though a bit instrumentally hijacked. I wonder at the difference in approach - the Irish or Irish traditional based songs all have such ‘to the point’ and very supporting accompaniments. Don't get me wrong, the musicianship is amazing, but it might be better served on its own instrumental album with a few songs with Muireann on it.

There’s something for everyone on this album. It’ll appeal to a wide audience, fans and new listeners alike. Listen to it one song at a time; one for every small hour you have all to yourself.

Annemarie de Bie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 97 of The Living Tradition magazine.