LINDA MOYLAN – The Merchant (Talking Elephant TECD470)

The MerchantLinda Moylan comes originally from Waterford and is now based in London. The Merchant, her second album, was produced by Phil Beer and mixed by Phil and Mark Tucker. Linda has a hand in all the original songs, sharing the writing with Eamon Gilmore, Chris Wyatt and her partner Ian Montague and there are two traditional titles that hark back to her Irish roots.

Linda’s voice has the power and a little of the Irishness of Eleanor McEvoy and it may be the time of year but there is something Pogueish about the arrangements and, indeed, the songs at times. The instrumental contributions of Wyatt, Gilmore and Beer contribute to the free-rolling style. The opening tracks, ‘Old Black Boots’, ‘Sugar Water’ and ‘Auld Drag’, seem to take us to the streets or the less salubrious dwellings that line them as does ‘Ordinary Merchants’. Amongst these is the first traditional song, ‘Black Is The Colour’, but this is no wimpy acoustic arrangement and Linda gives it an unexpected edge. The album is essentially folk music but there are overtones of country and blues in there.

Linda dips into history with ‘Brig Hannah’, the story of a voyage to Canada that began with the optimism expressed in the first verse but ended in disaster in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The captain was blamed but you have to say that venturing out to sea on a “passenger” ship that had recently hauled coal might not have been the wisest of moves. It’s a fascinating story and Linda quickly draws the listener in.

‘Star Of The County Down’ is the folkiest of the tracks with an arrangement pared down to acoustic guitar and whistle. It’s a great song and Linda does it more than justice. Other standout tracks for me are ‘Hippodrome’ and ‘Glistening Gold’ but The Merchant offers so much variety that it’s hard to know where to turn first.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Sugar Water’ – live:

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