by Kerry Dexter

Drinking songs, songs of over the top sentiment and an air of the quaint and distant — sometimes that’s the substance of music around Saint Patrick’s Day or the view of irish music in general. If you’re ready for something else, have a listen to these:

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
Day Break: Fáinne an Lae Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh grew up in the Kerry gaeltacht, and she sings her songs and plays her tunes (she’s a flutist) with the intimacy and conviction that seems to arise out of the Kerry hills. When she’s not making solo records she is the singer with the top traditional band Danu.

Cherish the Ladies
The Back Door
Cherish the Ladies is an Irish American band that’s going on for twenty years in existence now. This is their first recording with the lineup that’s made them famous, and though times have changed and the band’s personnel has undergone some shift, it’s certainly worth listening to., and if you’re thinking of your Irish roots on Patrick’s Day, the title song and several others give a different view of the immigrant’s life, and the determination it took to make in a new land.

Liz Carroll and John Doyle
In Play Carroll plays fiddle, Doyle plays guitar, and they got together one day in a Nashville studio on the edge of music row and ahd fun with that, original and traditional work, not a word said or sung, but loads of stories well told.

Mary Black
Best of Mary Black vol 2 Mary Black may be better known Ireland — and Japan, and Germany, and the Netherlands– than she is in North America, but her blend of seeking out songs which echo elements of story telling tradition while being contemporary, and a really conversational way of singing and relating to her listeners make invite you into this collection even if you’ve not heard of her. If you have, you’ll be glad to know it’s a two disc set, one of favorites from earlier releases and one that’s out takes, live recordings and one offs. Great stuff. If you don’t have a copy of Black singing Song for Ireland, get it just for that.

Kerry Dexter writes about music and creative practice at Music Road.

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