Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin
An Irish Lullaby

cd cover Irish music is divided into three categories "Goltrai" or sad music, "Geantrai," or happy music, and "Suantrai" which is sleep music. This sleep music is said to have been the creation of the Irish harp itself. Although all cultures have a body of music for lulling children to sleep, this reviewer can think of no other precedent for this kind of veneration, for this kind of music.

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin performs both composed and traditional lullabies of Ireland on this fine collection. A distinctive singer of sean nós in her own right, her alto voice is true and clear, with none of the precious breathiness so prevalent in Irish singing these days. Her diction and phrasing are models of easy precision and she sings with direct sincerity.

The settings of the songs are lovely, with contributions from a host of Ireland's finest artists. The songs themselves are all appropriately soothing, with lyrics that run from comforting to lamenting to touching.

The expected pitfalls are present however: with a compilation such as this, with all the textures and tempos having so much similarity, (and the same lead vocal, no matter how stellar), the cumulative listening experience becomes tedious. If you are primarily trying to put the little one to sleep, this is perfect. But if you are aiming to really appreciate each song in its own right, it might be wiser to listen to the CD in segments of four or five at a time. The content is there, and does warrant closer attention. The CD contains fifteen tracks, and if you are still awake by the time you have listened all the way through, you will surely be the calmer for it. - Michal Shapiro

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