Album Review: Far Beyond The Stars, The Henry Girls

Donegal sisters doing it for themselves.

With a couple of acclaimed albums behind them and a hectic live schedule, Donegal’s Henry Girls – sisters Karen, Lorna and Joleen McLaughlin – have forged a reputation and won hearts, home and abroad, with their unique brand of charming, understated, Celtic Americana. Certainly, their penchant for fetching melodies and heartfelt three-part harmonies, combined with an endearing stage presence, offers an irresistible package.

On Far Beyond The Stars, the terrific opener, ‘Oh Why’, blends driving bluegrass rhythms and a winning pop melody, while the gorgeous acapella beginning to ‘Down By The River’ sounds like something from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. Even better is their take on folk standard – and feminist anthem – ‘Rebel Girl (Joe Hill)’, which is truly sublime.

Elsewhere, the trio veer towards a Western swing style with the finger-clicking, handclapping workout ‘Don’t Call Me Honey’, while ‘Falling In Love Again’ is as sweet and front-porch wholesome as it gets. For good measure, the group prove equally adept at ’40s-style boogie woogie, as evidenced by ‘I’m Your Baby’. Some might argue that a tad more edginess in the arrangements and instrumental approach might add more sonic interest, but the purity of the voices and the impeccable musicianship are hard to argue with.

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