Briege Murphy

Sceolang CD1

A bit of a conundrum, this. The sparcity of the sleeve notes seems to point to a home-spun effort, but the music itself is well-made, the track list is most interesting and on the bottom line, I really like it.

Briege (who I hope doesn’t want me to pronounce her name until I’ve had a bit of guidance) delivers ten songs in her native accent (assuming that she comes from Northern Ireland) in a style that is both lived-in and unassuming. About half the tracks are dead-on Irish Traditional (‘Verdant Braes of Screen’, ‘Slieve Gallion Braes’, ‘The Creel’ and the like), whilst the other half are out-on-a-limb Country Classics – there’s a Susannah Clarke song about “a quarter moon in a ten-cent town”, a great version of Taylor’s timeless ‘Sweet Baby James’ and two absolute killer songs by Townes Van Zandt (‘Tecuseh Valley’ and ‘Pancho and Lefty’). The arrangements and accompaniment come right out of the top drawer, much of it played by the album’s producer Johnny Scott. The distinctive presence of percussionist Tom McFarland, a name familiar to this reviewer from his outstanding English tours with Fil Campbell, and the Rostrevor, address of the recording studio helps to place ‘From Now On’ into some kind of context, but it’s still a bit of a guessing game. The only photo is an uncredited sunset (or sunrise) repeated no less than six times throughout the packaging, and though the song lyrics are reproduced, there’s not a lot else to go on.

But what the hell – I like it!

Alan Rose