Finbar 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.
Irish folk legend Finbar Furey has announced the UK release of his new album Don’t Stop This Now as March 30th 2018 on BMG UK. The album was originally released in Ireland as Paddy Dear, and has been repackaged for the UK to include new tracks and a DVD live concert filmed at Vicar St, Dublin in May 2017, where Finbar performs classic hits such as ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’, ‘The Lonesome Boatman’ and ‘The Green Fields Of France’.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter, storyteller and actor, Finbar is truly a Renaissance Man. Celebrated around the world as one of the great folk icons, Finbar’s playing was recognised by John Peel when in 1972, he and his brother Eddie were awarded Single of The Year for the original sound of the pipes and the whistles. At the forefront of musical change, Finbar’s successful career and extensive touring introduced a whole new audience to his music and instruments, and he advocated for changes to allow pipes to become more accessible to young musicians.
‘Only someone as tough as Finbar Furey can sing songs this tender. Only someone who has lived all the lives Finbar Furey has lived, can stop us in the busy street of our own life and still us into focusing on one very real soul in a song like ‘Annabelle’. We believe him when he sings of the lost and losing faith. We trust him with our own doubts, but strangely, with such balladry he gives us more faith and courage to go on’. – Bono
Finbar is a supreme storyteller and the songs, which are close to his heart, were inspired by his love of his native Ireland. New songs featuring on the UK release include the title track ‘Don’t Stop This Now’, ‘Annabelle’, a track written by Finbar in 1994. “Old Annabelle was a friend of my mothers. I’d often be with them as they’d share a bar of chocolate sitting on the roadside in Dublin in the 50s”, the eastern groove sounding ‘Co-Exist,’ and bluesy number ‘Hail, Rain Or Snow’.
In ‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’ Finbar sings about freedom and peace, “Liberty, life and freedom are words that captures the true spirit of humankind in every imaginable way – even in today’s global and tangled democracies”. ‘We Built a Home’ is the tragic story of a Famine family, and ‘I Remember You Singing This Song Ma’ is a classic Finbar love song.
‘Finbar is the jewel of Ireland. A rough cut, perfectly polished, precious, invaluable treasure of ours. He lives and breathes every word of every song he writes and performs. It feels like he sings every one just for me. Watch him, he mesmerises. With each gesture, each movement, each expression, he draws you in with his unmistakable, deep, dulcet, husky and yet sweetly soft, intimate, often delicately vulnerable, voice. With every song he sings I am convinced he can see inside my heart and I into his. He is the master. This is an icon at his best… so far’.– Imelda May
Finbar wrote all the songs on the album, apart from one; the traditional Irish folk song ‘The Galway Shawl’. On ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and ‘Hail Rain Or Snow’ his daughter Áine, who he clearly loves singing with, joins him on vocals. A versatile and multi-talented artist, Finbar also plays pipes, whistles, banjo and guitar. The album is co-produced with Peter Eades.
Don’t Stop This Now follows on from his successful albums, The Slender Promise (2015), an instrumental CD of pipes & flute, and 2013’s Colours which reached Number 1 in Ireland with the beautiful ‘Last Great Love Song’. In 2014 Finbar was honoured by the City of Dublin, Lord Mayor Christy Burke praising him for “Bringing life and laughter to many homes in Ireland”.
‘Don’t Stop This Now’ is the much anticipated album by Finbar, an extraordinary songwriter, a man at peace with himself and his music, whose voice rings true in every lyric.
‘Finbar Furey, even his name sings defiantly. It’s worth living long enough to hear that defiance and wisdom deepen, soften, yet never bend. It’s so great to see him. Whenever I do I’m reminded of the promise I made to myself: stay the road, stay true to yourself and your song. This man has it in spades’. – Glen Hansard