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ANN LYNCH LYONS - Silvery Light

ANN LYNCH LYONS - Silvery Light
Private Label

Ann Lynch Lyons is a native of Co. Meath, but has been living in Co. Clare for close on two decades. She’s been involved in traditional folk music and song for many years, so I’m even more astonished to discover this is her debut album release. With a focus firmly and resolutely placed on Ann’s exceedingly fine voice, the only accompaniment (on virtually all of the disc’s 15 tracks) is the close, intimate and purposefully strummed guitar of Alph Duggan, which is unfussy, sparse and unadorned (often confined to the very simplest expression of chords) but nonetheless a startlingly effective foil for Ann’s singing.

Particularly telling amongst a disc stacked full of exceptional performances we find Ann’s tremendously moving rendition of the poignant ballad Lone Shanakyle, named after the graveyard of victims of the 1845-49 famine, and the must-hear Silvery Moon (which Ann learnt, as did most of us I suspect, from the singing of Packie Byrne), the latter ably matched by its suitably silvery harmonics-rich backing. Two other album highlights come with Ann’s measured, refreshingly unrushed interpretation of Lament For Tommy Daly (Bryan MacMahon’s tribute to the legendary hurler and goalkeeper) and her equally persuasive expression of the mixed emotions of the beautiful emigration song A Stór Mo Chroi.

Then again, Ann’s take on Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colours is as affectionate as it is a surprising choice in the exalted company of so many distinguished traditional songs. Cyril Tawney’s iconic Grey Funnel Line, Don Reid’s Today, Tomorrow And Forever (made famous by Patsy Cline in the late 50s) and Dick Farrelly’s wistful Cottage By The Lee (a special favourite of Ann’s mother’s) all provide further memorable experiences for the listener. An appealing sweetness of tone brings an extra dimension to the puckish comic number The Bad Wife. Maybe the forthright nature of Ann’s delivery might at first appear a little strong for the more light-hearted touch required for My Bonny Boy In Blue, but her interpretation is nonetheless keenly considered. A temporary exception to the standard guitar-accompanied modus operandi of the recording comes with Ann’s treatment of the tender love song An Buachaill Caol Dubh, where after the first couple of verses Alph’s guitar is replaced by Ann’s daughter Aisling’s harp (an instrument which is previewed beforehand on the preceding, purely instrumental track, a gently invigorating hornpipe that provides a genial enough interlude but doesn’t really fit here).

Rarely has what amounts in essence to a basic voice-and-guitar album (yet proves to be so much more) generated such a spell of enchantment over such a comparatively lengthy timespan (a full 70 minutes here, and worth every moment).

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.