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Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
Daybreak: Fainne an Lae

Review By Steven Stone
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CD Number: Compass Records 744282 


  I can't begin to properly pronounce this singer's name, but do heed my advice and listen to her new CD. Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh combines prodigious natural talents with keen musical intelligence. Although grounded in traditional Celtic musical forms, her music surpasses any single musical category.

As the lead singer in the Irish traditional band Danu´ Muireann gained a following among both critics and fans. Daybreak is her first solo release. She performs songs by contemporary artists including Richard Thompson and Gerry O'Beirne as well as traditional fare. Some of the traditional songs are performed in Gaelic with translations in the liner notes for the Gaelic-challenged. The lullaby "Seoithin Seotho´" shimmers with a special charm even if you don't understand a single word. Her rendition of the Richard Thompson/ Tim Finn song  "Persuasion" lilts with just the right portions of languor and fatalistic romanticism. The timbral balance of Muireann's voice lives somewhere between Kate Rusby and Maura O'Connell. It has more body than Kate's, but isn't as dark or bluesy as Maura's. "The Emigrant's Song" which features Muireann's voice against an ethereal background drone, showcases a vocal purity that graces each note with delicate power.

Self-produced and recorded at the quaintly-named Grouse Lodge studio in Westmeath, UK, Muireann gathered together a fine collection of musicians for Daybreak including Oisin McAuley on fiddle and backing vocals, Gerry O'Beirne on guitar, 12-string guitar, national steel guitar and ukulele, Shane McGowan, Tony Bryne, and John Doyle on guitars, Eamon Doorley on bouzouki, Billy Mag Fhoinn on bodhran, and Julie Fowlis on backing vocals. Engineered and mixed by Ivan O'Shea, Daybreak delivers lush yet well-defined sonics that enhance the musicality and emotional power of the music. Instead of excessive artificial ambience Daybreak has an intimate perspective that warms the listener like a roaring fire on a winter's evening.

Whether you are a Celtic music aficionado or someone whose familiarity with Celtic music stopped with the Clancy Brothers, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh's Daybreak will make you stop, listen, and add it happily to your music collection.




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