Niamh Parsons
Blackbirds & Thrushes
Green Linnet (

Ever since I first heard Niamh Parsons, I have loved her husky, expressive voice. She is a rarity in that she sings sean nos, the old style, even with contemporary material. She represents an age-old tradition as it moves forward with time.

Her first album was a mix of old and new, while on her second, the most traditional sounding song was written by Tom Waits. On this, her third, she plunges wholeheartedly into traditional song with a dozen tracks, three performed unaccompanied. When instruments are used - a subtle guitar, a plaintive low whistle, driving pipes - they add the right touches, enriching the atmosphere, providing settings that enhance rather than distract from her singing.

Even with the better known songs, such as "The Water is Wide" and "The Flower of Magherally O," Parsons sings with a freshness, originality and individuality. She often seeks lesser know material, gems like "Fear A Bhata," always crediting sources and providing lyrics in the excellent sleeve notes. - Jamie O'Brien

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