FINBAR FUREY – Don’t Stop This Now (BMG)

Don't Stop This NowFinbar Furey’s new album, Don’t Stop This Now, is a repackaging of Paddy Dear with new songs and the addition of a DVD recorded at Vicar Street, Dublin.

Finbar is 71 now. Initially known as a champion piper he performed as a backing musician with The Clancy Brothers, later forming The Fureys with his brothers. As a songwriter he expresses a love of Ireland and its people and the opener, ‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’ seems particularly apposite as worries about the Good Friday Agreement are high on the news agenda. ‘Annabelle’ is about a character his mother knew in the 1950s, a strange woman who denied the existence of God – very radical at the time. He switches to banjo for ‘We Built A Home’, a song about the famine. There are harsh words here somewhat modified by Finbar’s voice, roughened by age but still with sweet overtones.

‘The Galway Shawl’ is the only traditional song here although Finbar has pinched a traditional tune for ‘I Remember You Singing This Song Ma’. On paper, ‘The Galway Shawl’ is an appallingly sentimental song but it has great appeal and a lovely tune. Finbar’s delivery gives it an edge of realism: for once I can believe the story it tells. As it reached its end I imagined Finbar laying aside his instrument to the applause of the audience in a session.

‘Co-Exist’ sounds like something Davey Graham might have written, with a long banjo introduction and hand percussion giving it that familiar raga feel. ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and ‘Hail Rain Or Snow’ both feature Finbar’s daughter, Áine. The first is a song of parting and the second one of homecoming – a nice pairing. Sentiment is to the fore again in ‘Michael Power’, the story of a sailor about to die in a shipwreck, and in ‘Paddy Dear’.

Don’t Stop This Now is a compelling album. Finbar’s voice guitar, whistle, pipes and banjo combine to sweep you along through his changing moods and vistas all wrapped up with a pipe lament.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’: