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TOMMY SANDS - Fair Play To You All 

TOMMY SANDS - Fair Play To You All 
Spring Records SRCD1066 

A prominent member of the well-known Sands Family, Tommy has sung all over the world, and his songwriting has drawn admiration from many audiences. His social commentary on a wide range of subjects has a resonance far beyond his native Ireland and he’s as much at home in Nevada as in Newry. This latest recording has him in fine form with an album composed entirely of self-penned songs that allow him to cast his eye over subjects as far apart as the plight of Palestinians and the murder of JFK.

He’s called on the vocal services of many of his family, plus a galaxy of musicians, including an entire pipe band, so there’s a very full sound which, together with the backing vocals and Tommy’s breathy and intimate singing, left me thinking of Leonard Cohen’s performance style. At other times, the style suggested reggae or Christy Moore. In other words, there’s plenty of variety to keep you listening. But this is not ‘easy listening’ - don’t be deceived by the relaxed delivery, these are meaty songs with strong and well-crafted messages which should leave you with a heightened awareness of some of the world’s ills.

But it’s not all social comment. The delightful Every County On The Island, a song composed for his children, and the stunning Caoineadh Mhacha (featuring Steve Cooney) change the mood. He should make new friends with this album.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine