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Thran Records THR1011

It’s been a while since this reviewer and the songs of Derry based Eamon Friel locked horns in a review context. Eamon, for the uninitiated, is a singer songwriter and playwright who has also been a broadcaster with BBC Radio Foyle in Derry and later with BBC Radio Ulster, presenting the show, Friel’s Fancy, which offered a radio home to the singer songwriter brigade. He has also released several solo albums, beginning in 1985 with Logarhythms and progressing to his later releases. Now comes In My Time, his latest album – another choice collection of songs and comments on everything from history to changing cities and recasts of Gaelic legends and an odd piece of social commentary.

His laid back vocals and breathy delivery has a distinct Northern lilt while also commanding attention with its quiet authority. Playing piano and guitar and singing, he composes songs that evoke childhood reminiscences, as in William Street and The Well, the latter recalling summer times spent in Mayo, and the result is not dissimilar to his classic, Farewell Mayo. The Gaelic story song of Oisin and Niamh forms the basis of A Year And A Day, while the tongue in cheek social comment of Phone Tapping is a cogent piece of acidic observation of the practice of texting. The songs are gently beguiling and their overall class and strength of purpose are revealed on continual exposure. One of Ireland’s secret weapon singer songwriters, Eamon Friel is worthy of further exposure and discovery – they don’t make them like him anymore.

John O'Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.