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FINTAN MCHUGH - Wait Till The Clouds Roll By

FINTAN MCHUGH - Wait Till The Clouds Roll By
Private Label

Fintan McHugh’s a singer and multi-instrumentalist who was born in Dublin then since has lived variously in Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium exploring an assortment of artistic avenues, finally settling for just long enough to record his debut CD in piper Joe McKenna’s woodland studio in the Wicklow Mountains. Fintan admits that his love of 60s and 70s LPs had motivated him to record in a single-take live mode, and the result has a very appealing, at once intimate and raw, primitive retro ambience that reminds me quite a bit of the very first Incredible String Band LP – indeed, the disc’s lovely opening (title) track would’ve fitted well on there, with its simple, genuine, immediate delivery and interesting guitar playing style, while his version of Annachie Gordon (intelligently self-accompanied on cittern and harmonica) has much of the feel of early Andy Irvine – as does The Blacksmith (a deliberate homage to Planxty).

Traditional song forms a major part of Fintan’s repertoire, and he tackles acknowledged, trusty classics of the tradition in an individual and distinctive manner that often stems from deeply traditional sean nós (as on The Rocks Of Bawn) – Fintan’s catalyst defining moment was hearing Mícheál Ó Domhnaill singing Casadh an tSugain some years ago. He turns in a lovely, lyrical take on You Rambling Boys Of Pleasure and a treasurably intense a cappella version of A Stór Mo Chroí. He also includes two of his own compositions here: Puppet Of Disaster (whose lyric provides the sleeve quote “I hid in the woods of memory”) has the feel of an early Robin Williamson song, while Holding On is more in the folk-troubadour mode of early Dylan perhaps. But it’s Fintan’s deftly pointed, gently expressive account of Edward On Lough Erne’s Shore that provides the ideal album closer, one that fair makes you long even more for his second record!

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.