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
Double CD album out 13th April 2015 on Proper Records
Tom Russell’s ambitious new double-album The Rose of Roscrae takes a fascinating look at the history of the American West and traditional cowboy and folk music, through the story of an Irish kid who travels to the United States in the late 1880s to become a cowboy.
Produced by Tom Russell and Barry Walsh, The Rose of Roscrae features a who’s who of legendary Americana icons including: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, David Olney, Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, Augie Meyers, Fats Kaplin, Barry Walsh, Jimmy LaFave, Gretchen Peters, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Walt Whitman, Moses “Clear Rock” Platt, Jack Hardy, David Massengill, A.L. “Bert” Lloyd, Finbar Furey, Sourdough Slim, Blackie Farrell, Tex Ritter, Glen Orhlin, Pat Russell, John Trudell, Henry Real Bird, Thad Beckman, Maura O’Connell, Eliza Gilkyson, The McCrary Sisters, Ian Tyson, Bonnie Dobson, Lead Belly, Guy Clark, Dan Penn, Gurf Morlix, and Pat Manske. The album’s overture is performed by the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, arranged by Mats Hålling, composed by Tom Russell.
For over four decades and 28 album releases Tom Russell has continued to live up to his status as “one of the best singer-songwriters of our time” (Washington Post). His previous two studio releases, Blood and Candle Smoke (2009) and Mesabi (2011), are considered his strongest composed works yet and were, in part, recorded with the groundbreaking roots band Calexico. In the 1990s, Russell and Dave Alvin were hailed as the architects of what came to be known as “Americana” music after their Merle Haggard tribute, Tulare Dust, initiated the Americana charts in the U.S. and remained number one for a year. Russell’s previous release, Aztec Jazz (2013), moved Americana into a new realm and his acclaimed song catalogue into uncharted territory.
Tom Russell’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, and others. The Rose of Roscrae is his third in a series of acclaimed folk operas, following The Man From God Knows Where (1999) and Hotwalker (2005). Russell has also composed movie scores, including songs for the Monte Hellman movie The Road To Nowhere and published five books, most recently 120 Songs of Tom Russell. An accomplished fine artist, Russell’s paintings are featured in: Blue Horse/Red Desert: The Art of Tom Russell.
The distinctive sound that makes Keston Cobblers’ Club so unique comes from a desire to create contemporary, catchy music fused with the wholesome grittiness of traditional folk. With a festival count growing by the minute, Bromley’s Keston Cobblers’ Club released their new single ‘Beam’ on May 13th.
Keston Cobblers’ Club formed in 2009 with sibling duo Matthew and Julia Lowe joining old Keston School friends Tom and Daniel to write and play music together. Over the years the band has shuffled around its members, climaxing with a Cobblers’ 60 piece fan orchestra recorded live last year.
After the release of their debut single ‘You-go’ (featured on the album), which gained national radio play and critical acclaim for its unique video, the band went on to release a five track limited edition physical EP ‘Welcome to the Club’ which sold out in under five months. They followed this release with a string of UK gigs including the main support for folk heavyweights Seth Lakeman, Liz Green and Finbar Furey during their sell out tours, and went on to play numerous UK festivals including Bestival, Wilderness, Cambridge Folk Festival, Larmer Tree and Wychwood.
This is the first studio recording from Mary Black in six years, and it’s a collection that demonstrates an artist in full command of her bewitching vocal prowess. Throughout an impressive career, Mary has consistently demonstrated impeccable taste in her choice of material, and the evidence presented here suggests that her ear for seeking out songs of utmost grace and beauty is as keen as ever. With a voice that has only gained in depth and resonance over the years, Mary brings her trademark warmth and sincerity, casting light and shade amongst the lyrics to create her own personal space amongst the words of carefully chosen songwriters. Never one to rest on her laurels, we’re gifted songs from familiar friends such as Shane Howard, Eric Bogle and Julie Matthews, alongside burgeoning writing talents, including Danny O’Reilly and Ricky Lynch.
Sharing the stage with a number of guests, Stories From The Steeples contains three duets: the beguiling “Lighthouse Light” features Janis Ian in a perfectly balanced performance that whets the appetite for further exploration of this winsome partnership; the robust, soulful voice of Imelda May joins Mary on an affirmative song of place and belonging, “Mountains To The Sea”; and the playful “Walking With My Love” finds Mary exchanging lines with the legendary Finbar Furey. All three performances are notable for their palpable sense of modesty and mutual admiration.
Two stand-out tracks come from particularly close to home, being written by Mary’s son, Danny O’Reilly. “Faith In Fate” paints a stark contrast between the sheer despair of a broken relationship with a determined hopefulness to move on and patch things up. Managing to be simultaneously bleak and uplifting with its heady infusion of hurt and devoted affection, it’s a song that plays to all the strengths of Mary’s typically emotion-wrought interpretation. Offering a similar cocktail of emotions, “Wizard of Oz” is a mournful reflection on the search for strength and happiness, underpinned by a dreamy string arrangement over which Mary lays her heartwarming vocals.
Fulfilling the role of storyteller, Mary excels in bringing lifelike colour to the characters of “Marguerite And The Gambler,” a Ricky Lynch song that recounts the familiar tale of many a traditional folk ballad, with its gamblers, true love, misguided familial intervention, heartbreak and devastation. Those purchasing the extended version of the album are handsomely rewarded with an exquisite reading of Chris Woods’ “One In A Million,” a story of true love that takes the mundanities of life and turns it in to utter magic, and proving beyond any doubt that Mary remains a song’s best friend.
Paul Kelly’s “They Thought I Was Asleep” benefits from a tender reading, cloaked in Mary’s trademark warmth, depicting the torment of a child inadvertently witnessing from the back seat of a car, the emotional breakdown of his parents’ relationship. Equally devastating, though of more epic proportions, Eric Bogle’s “All the Fine Young Men” is made all the more disarming, thanks to the sheer reverence with which Mary furnishes this stark, anti-war anthem.
With a little less polish than some of her earlier releases, Stories From The Steeples steps forward as an intimate, unpretentious collection, bathed in a soft but radiant glow of effortlessness and wholehearted integrity. Time will tell, but Stories From The Steeples may well prove to be Mary’s best yet.