A new studio album from Christy Moore is a rare treat these days. His previous, Lily, was five years ago and in the intervening time he’s been occupied in curating a number of live albums from his archives. Now things have changed again. Flying Into Mystery, for all its enigmatic cover, is the familiar mélange of original material, carefully selected covers and a couple of traditional songs that Christy has built a five decade career on. He is supported by a small band: Jim Higgins, his co-producer, multi-instrumentalist Seamie O’Dowd, Gavin Murphy, Mark Redmond, James Blennerhassett and Andy Moore.
The set opens with ‘Johnny Boy’ by Gary Moore – no relation but the late veteran of Thin Lizzy and Skid Row – and Christy takes it as far from Gary’s blues roots as he can, giving it a weary wistful air. Things take a serious turn now that Christy has softened us up a bit. ‘Clock Winds Down’ by Jim Page is a song of ecological protest that really tells it like it is and ‘Greenland’, which inspired the cover art, left me undecided. It could be carrying on where ‘Clock Winds Down’ leaves off, referring to whales journeying north or, as I first thought, a song about human migration with ‘Greenland’ being a metaphor for a green land that we are all searching for. I think I’ll stay on the fence for a while longer – I like both interpretations.
‘All I Remember’ is a moment of levity in the midst of the despair but it is immediately counteracted by Ricky Lynch’s ‘December 1942’, a song about the unloading of Jewish prisoners on the way to the concentration camps – the Holocaust in microcosm. Follow that? Christy gives ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ a jaunty reading but the parallels are obvious.
The final two songs bring us into the world of Bob Dylan. ‘Zozimus & Zimmerman’ is about a gig, possibly during the 1978 tour, although Christy and his co-writer Wally Page are a bit vague about that saying only that it was in Dublin at a gig when Dylan appeared with them in disguise. That leads into ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’. There are still so many ways of looking at this song, fifty-five years after it was written, and it’s a lyric I’ve sometimes had trouble with. The sleeve notes on Christy’s website, don’t give much of an insight into his thinking but I suspect he’s had trouble with it, too..
Flying Into Mystery is another exemplary Christy Moore album. Half the songs grabbed me on first hearing and the rest followed.
Artist’s website: https://www.christymoore.com/