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ÉILÍS KENNEDY - So Ends This Day 

ÉILÍS KENNEDY - So Ends This Day 
Copperplate COPP034 

Strongly themed around maritime matters, this is a beautiful-sounding album that merits great praise for both Éilís Kennedy’s singing and Gerry O’Beirne’s production. It sounds terrific, without the instrumentation being overloaded – it’s predominantly guitar with piano or harmonium, with the occasional addition of bass and other instruments.

The fact that the CD booklet gives as much space to a bibliography as it does to musical credits indicates how well-researched the album is. There are songs sourced from Gale Harrington’s Songs The Whalemen Sang, but Éilís also undertook her own research in the library of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, leading to the composition of the opening track, When I Sleep, among others. The opener is one of several numbers focussing on the experience of women, either left at home or those on board ship.

There is some more familiar fare here, versions of Franklin, A Sailor’s Life and Row On, but this is a predominantly original album, with four out of nine tracks representing Éilís’ response to the documents she researched. A Shaun Davey setting of a poem written by Éilís’ father, Caoimhin, is another new item. Playing this album to others, I have had the reaction: “isn’t this all a bit nice, given some of the subject matter?” I understand that view, but I can’t envisage how a different approach would have led to a better recording.

This album has two different and strong appeals – one in respect of the quality of the singing, the other in relation to the interest of the material. It would be a great pity if it did not receive wide exposure and find its audience.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine