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VARIOUS ARTISTS - I Pray You Pay Attention

VARIOUS ARTISTS - I Pray You Pay Attention
Musical Traditions MTCD367-8

This collection of field recordings is a companion set to those released in 2004 on the album The Hardy Sons Of Dan, and comprises 50 unaccompanied songs over two CDs which feature local singers from County Fermanagh and its environs, recorded by Keith Summers between 1977 and 1983. He sadly passed away in 2004, shortly after the release of the first volume. The release (indeed the very existence) of these tracks is a tribute to the perseverance of Summers and his successors – the original tapes were not accepted by the National Sound Archive on the grounds that they ‘were not English’.

Some songs are familiar to session goers – but not necessarily with these tunes, for example, Spancil Hill (Patsy Flynn) and The Banks Of The Lee (Francie Scott).

There are some gems here for singers looking for new material that is somewhat less than well kent. Popular standards such as The Galway Shawl (Eugene Ward McElroy) and Stock Or Wall (Maggie Murphy) rub shoulders with songs I have no recollection of at all – for example The Tyrone Tailor (Francie Little).

There’s scant ornamentation, most of the singers were not used to public performance, let alone recording, except perhaps in pub sessions, but they all give relaxed readings of the songs – oft times with the audible encouragement of the others present. There are no frills and no instruments but that isn’t the point - these are historical artefacts, lovingly tendered by Keith Summers and by Paul Marsh and Rod Stradling who have handled these items with kid gloves and are to be commended.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.