- 13 Jul 22
Major Tom to Ground Control.
Parts Dubliner, Tipp man, Corkonian and Galwegian, ex-Irish army officer Tom Barry – a graduate of John Spillane songwriting workshops and alumnus of Galway Baroque Singers and Cois Claddaigh – has released a debut album that slips snugly into the Irish folk canon.
Spillane’s imprint rests softly across the record: the Eastern music flecks of ‘Lord Valentine’ recall the Cork master’s ‘Billy In The Sky’, while Barry’s spoken word turn on ‘Derreighter’ is reminiscent of Spillane’s ‘The Dawn Chorus’ – both tracks featured on last year’s sublime 100 Snow White Horses.
However, Barry is his own man, with the latter track also channelling Tomás MacEoin’s beatific paean on ‘The Stolen Child’ from The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues.
Indeed, wonderful it is to hear the county Galway so markedly and beautifully evoked. There’s also talk of Menlo Castle, the boats of Woodquay and the Corrib: the beating heart of Galway City flows through ‘Lord Valentine’.
The parlour piano of ‘If I Was A Bird’, a lullaby to Barry’s three young sons, harking back, to sounds of song from a century, is gladdening. Elsewhere, ‘Little Musgrave’, made famous by Planxty, treads all the way back to the mid-seventeenth century.
Conjuring landscape is a fine trick of Barry’s, none more so than on album closer ‘Shores Of the Morning’, which paints the wilds of Connemara wondrously. An excellent record.
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