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SINÉAD MURPHY - No Better Time

SINÉAD MURPHY - No Better Time
Private Label

I suppose you know you’re getting older when you get to review a recording by someone who quotes a number of your own friends as her influences… And that’s what this fine singer has done here. Sinéad has been singing nearly all her life, was winning awards at Fleadhanna as a teenager, and has developed a mature and skilled way with a song.

She’s chosen to sing nearly all traditional songs (with the exception of Seán Mone’s beautiful Newholland Grove, which sounds as if it grew there anyway), and I’ve known all the singers from whom she’s heard them, and have heard them all sing these songs. Some of the tracks are accompanied, and by and large this works well.

Sometimes it can be hard to set aside the known version in your mind as you listen to another singer’s attempt, and all too often the comparison doesn’t reflect well on the ‘new’ rendition. I’m pleased to say that, with her distinctive, well-controlled voice and her fresh interpretations, this is never the case here. From The Cocks Are Crowing, which starts the CD, to Valentine O Hara, which brings it to an end, she has made every song her own; and all too soon the 10-track recording is over.

There are a few small points to mention. I felt she could have taken more time over Valentine O Hara – it felt hurried; and she sometimes breathes in the middle of a phrase, which can be disconcerting; and a few more tracks wouldn’t have gone amiss; I was tempted to say that on other occasions, her singing (which is quite decorated), was on the slow side, but I know there’ll be plenty who’ll say that I’m a very dark pot to be criticising the colour of a kettle!

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.