Dolores Keane
Night Owl
Alula Records (

Singer-songwriter Iris DeMent calls Dolores Keane "the voice of Ireland." She artfully helped Tom Russell reflect on his own immigrant-American history on Russell's now-classic album, The Man From God Knows Where. Her voice, high, full, clear and warm, is the perfect instrument for this current collection. Night Owl is a selection of traditional and composed songs, (several by Keane's guitarist John Faulkner and others by Tommy Sands, Peter O'Hanlon and Steve Tiltson). It is Keane's deft delivery and attention to the meaning of the lyrics that give this album its dark but moving force.

O'Hanlon's "Dangerous Dance" catches the longing of all decent Irish folks for a permanent peace, while the traditional songs of wartime, "Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "Banks of the Nile" remind the listener how fragile that peace can be. Faulkner's biting "New Deal" and "Jose" cast a wary eye on the plots and promises of politicians and on the horror that still stalks the poor in the darkened streets of many a great city, first, third or whatever brave new world may be promised.

The musical accompaniment, by Alec Finn (bouzouki), Eoin O'Riabhaigh (uillean pipes), Gavin Povey (piano), Fergus Feeley (mandola), and other masters, sets the tone of each tune exactly. - Bill Nevins

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