NIAMH BOADLE – Maid On The Shore (WildGoose WGS411CD)

Maid On The ShoreNiamh Boadle comes from the Fylde coast of Anglo-Irish stock and Maid On The Shore, her second album, reflects her heritage. It’s an intriguing mix of traditional and modern music in which it can be hard to distinguish between the two. Niamh is a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, fiddle, whistles, mandolin and bodhran but she doesn’t indulge in flashy multi-tracking. She’s joined on three tracks by Paul Sartin on piano and oboe but his contributions are unobtrusive.

Let’s start with the first track, ‘Forget-Me-Not’. At first I took it to be a traditional piece given a huge modernisation – not in the folk-rock style but with a choppy guitar accompaniment. It turns out that Niamh wrote it, basing the story on a newspaper report from the late nineteenth century. It will be taken for traditional before long. Later comes ‘The Flower Of Finae’, also purely traditional except that it was written by Thomas Davis in the 1840s and is set during the Battle Of Ramillies over a century earlier. Nothing much changes.

A real traditional song is ‘I’m A Fading Day By Day’ except it is thought that the text was created by a Yorkshire gypsy, Elizabeth Smith, who borrowed heavily from ‘The White Cockade’. ‘Dark Inishowen’, ‘Green Bushes’, ‘Creggan White Hare’, ‘Boys Of Mullaghbawn’ and the title track have probably gone through the folk process while retaining their authenticity. The first of the covers is Anthony John Clarke’s ‘The Only Life Gloria Knows’, a song about a homeless girl on the game in Belfast. It’s a superb piece of writing and should be better known.

Niamh has been working the folk scene for many years and in many guises and is currently studying at Newcastle University. I hope that when she completes her degree her fame will have spread further.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Maid On The Shore’ – live at The Davy Lamp Folk Club

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