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A Woman's Heart - Then And Now

Girl power, twenty years on

Rating: 8 / 10

Colm O'Hare, 01 Dec 2010

The original Woman’s Heart concept was both an inspired artistic venture and a true marketing phenomenon. The idea was simple – take a selection of tracks from the popular female artists of the day and group them together under a common theme – the original Irish girl power! It turned into a veritable industry, spawning subsequent volumes and sell-out tours, while also hugely boosting the careers of the participants. Two decades later, the project is revisited on this double set – with one disc featuring a selection of the best of the original crop and the second shining the spotlight on the current, inspiring generation of Irish female talent. The original of the series veered towards more folk/traditional fare and included here from it are Mary Black (‘Sonny’), Dolores Keane (‘Caledonia’), Sharon Shannon (‘Blackbird’), Maura O’Connell (‘Summerfly’) Frances Black (‘Wall of Tears’) and of course Eleanor McEvoy, who penned the title track.

In contrast, the class of 2010 is much more diverse stylistically, veering from pop, rock, and indie to acoustica. Highlights include the wonderful Imelda May, who lets rip on ‘Big Bad Handsome Man’, Lisa Hannigan’s gorgeous ‘Ocean And A Rock’ and Cathy Davey’s charmingly quirky, ‘Little Red’. Demonstrating how much the commercial environment has changed in recent years, no less than three of the tracks here have been used in TV ads, including Paula Flynn’s take on Bowies’ Let’s Dance’, Heathers’ exuberant ‘Remember When’ and Julie Feeney’s divine ‘Impossibly Beautiful. Other highlights include Luan Parle’s jaunty ‘Sexy Sita’, Gemma Hayes’ poignant ‘Oliver’, Wallis Bird’s ‘To My Bones’ and Roisin O’s ‘Drifting’. Also well worth hearing are Michele Ann Kelly (‘Designer Love’), Lumiere’s ‘Fair and Tender Ladies’ and Maria Doyle Kennedy’s ‘Stars Above’.

Along with some truly great music, this set also provides a fascinating overview of where we were – and where we are now.


Rating: 8 / 10
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