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DELIA MURPHY - If I Were A Blackbird

DELIA MURPHY - If I Were A Blackbird
Whitehound Music WHM01CD

The legend of Delia Murphy sees her revered as one of Ireland’s first major female folk singers. She was also a singer songwriter whose approach and style crossed the bridge between Vaudeville and traditional song. Throughout her life Delia balanced writing, recording and performing with a hectic life as the wife of one of Ireland’s most celebrated ambassadors, TJ Kiernan. From the 1920s to the 1960s they lived in London, Rome, Canberra, Bonn, Ottawa and Washington as TJ Kiernan was posted to various Irish embassies around the world.

Delia made records in London, Dublin and New York, performed regularly on radio and appeared in the 1938 film West Of Kerry. Her recordings, which were originally cut on 78s, achieved new popularity in the 70s on an EMI vinyl LP and other vintage recordings occasionally emerge on eBay and yard sales. Now this CD compiled by her grandson, Ronan Browne, aims to set the record straight and introduce Delia’s songs to the digital age.

Featuring 21 tracks recorded between 1938 and 1941 many of which she wrote herself, the CD includes some of her biggest hits - The Spinning Wheel, The Moonshiner and Three Lovely Lassies from Bannion. The original recordings have been remastered and their bravura and raw innocence still radiate. These are songs from an earlier Ireland, yet the knowing and feminine guile expressed is both universal and timeless. Delia Murphy was of her age yet beyond it and her importance in Irish singing is reinstated with this excellent compilation.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.