Susan McKeown - Sweet Liberty
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Susan McKeown
Sweet Liberty

World Village (

cd cover This Irish girl can glower. I mean, just look at the way she's glaring out from the cover of this CD. You feel as though some serious consequences might ensue if you choose not to like the music within. Fortunately, no coercing is necessary. Sweet Liberty glows with wistful longing, folkloric references and the remarkable richness of McKeown's singing. Unmistakably Celtic in roots, there's more than a hint of progressiveness as well. The songs are all traditional ones that McKeown has rearranged with good results, accentuating both the celestial and the edgy. She has an ear toward some intriguing fusion as well, bringing in the Malian ensemble Tartit for a call-and-response run through "Oro Mhile Gra" that's a natural fit (and makes you wonder how a whole album of Celtic/Malian melding would sound), some spirited mariachi musicians on "Eggs In Her Basket" and the members of Flook gracing the opening "The Wee Birds Have All Come And Gone." A bit more material on the upbeat side would have been preferable-- the disc ends with two very melancholy songs that are lovely but a bit taxing. McKeown's stated intention for this album was to create an work in which the songs could stand alone. Thus the selections are often very sparsely arranged with minimal instrumental backing. The resulting spartan quality means the singer has her work cut out for her, and she is up to the task. It's an intense album, but an earnest and moving one all the same. -Tom Orr

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