Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available
MARY McPARTLAN 'The Holland Handkerchief' MCPRCD001

Mary McPartland is from Co. Leitrim, a county that's not had it's proper recognition as a musical treasure house. She now lives in Galway, is a music producer and director, and founder of the Riabhóg Singers Club. She has a big voice, not in the Shirley Bassey sense, but well rounded and mature with a great deal of confidence in her chosen material. She handles each song as if it's an old friend; at times tenderly, at others robustly.

Accompanied at times by such fine musicians as Paddy Keenan, Mairtín Ó Connor, Cathal Hayden and others of that stamp, this is a tour de force for her. Not all of the songs are traditional Irish; there's Shane McGowan's 'Rainy Night in Soho', 'Saw You Running', and even 'Aura Lee'. And they all work for her. I was interested in 'John Riley', a song about the Irish soldiers of the little known San Patricio Brigade of the 19th century Mexican army. At the start of ' As I Roved Out', I thought this was a Galway City version of 'The Spanish Lady'. In fact it's a feminist reply to the old story of the fellow who tells a girl he'll give all sorts of goodies if she'll marry him; in this case she sends him off with a flea in his ear.

On one of my own favourites, 'Slieve Gallion Braes', McPartlan is accompanied by two great singers, Mary Staunton and Martina Goggin. This is one the best tracks on the CD. The best is a haunting version of 'Lord Gregory', where she does an even better job than the great Dolly MacMahon. That takes some admitting, because I've loved Dolly's version for decades. And she was a Furey before she married Ciarán MacMathúna, so there's an amount of kindred feeling there too.

This is definitely the best vocal album I've heard this year. The only thing I find strange is that this is McPartlan's first album. I hope she soon makes more; I can hardly wait.

Mick Furey

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 58 of The Living Tradition magazine.