AMY McALLISTER – String On String (own label)

StringI’ll state now that anyone who sings ‘Matt Hyland’ is all right with me, especially when that anyone sings it as gorgeously as Amy McAllister does, even though she does omit the bribery verse. Amy is a singer, songwriter, harpist and fiddle player from Antrim and, after many years of touring, String On String is her debut album.

Amy has written three of the songs here, two tunes are borrowed and the rest are traditional, arranged by Amy and producer/instrumentalist Camille Champarnaud who plays just about everything except harp. Other guests are guitarist Eoghan Scott and Jos Kelly who plays piano on ‘Bonny Blue Eyed Nancy’. Everything is taken at a lively pace with the opener, ‘Over The Mountain’ being followed by a sprightly set of jigs

The first of her original songs, ‘Holy Holy’, is an intriguing blend of traditional sounds and modern lyrics – a line like “Plankton light up the Cartagena sea” doesn’t appear often in Irish songs. ‘It’s Been A Year’ is something of a sequel as the man who left her hasn’t yet come back to her and, in fact, is off with someone else while ‘Mi Amor’ describes or imagines his return.

The borrowed tunes are Catriona McKay’s ‘The Swan LK 243’ and ‘O’Carolan’s Concerto’ which every harpist worth his or her salt must play at some time. It’s a superb tune – the sort you would happily have on a loop – and Amy does it full justice

There is a dreamy feel to String On String which I find pleasantly relaxing. Usually my taste runs to something with more of an edge but I’m really taken with Amy and her debut album.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Mi Amor’ – official video: