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ALAN BURKE "Tip of the Tongue" APBCD002

Alan Burke's a new voice to me, though he's obviously been around for a while. The voice is pleasant enough; not outstanding but what harm in that? There's a fair mix of songs and accompaniments here, making for an easy blend of voice and instruments. Not that it's 'Easy Listening', he has more about him than that.

Right, this is about the songs, isn't it? I'm not too happy about starting with a version of Nancy Whisky; even if it is called The Longford Weaver, it's the same old song.

Burke saves himself with the next track, Across the Blue Mountains. This is at odds with the usual 'Come away, love' song; the man's married, the blackguard! Somehow it feels as if it's only part of a longer song, but maybe that's wishful thinking. It's a really ear-catching tune, not obvious but staying in the mind afterward. Then a song from the Sam Henry collection, always a good place for songs. A macaronic The Shepherd's Boy; The Banks of Sullane treated very sensitively; and a bilingual If You Come At All stand out. I don't like the gender re-assignation of Ned Flaherty's Drake; what's the point of changing from Nell? He does well enough with the song, though it's a bit fast for my liking.

The last two tracks are good old ones. An Bhfaca Tú Mo Shéamaisín? brings back memories of Irish classes, though I always remember it to Maggie in the Wood. I was corrupt even then. Burke finishes well with Is í do mhaimeo í - though maybe he could have made a better finish with a different song.

The overall balance is good, I just wish he'd concentrated more on his Irish songs and spread them out more. That moaning bit aside, I'll play this again.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.