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'Head Over Water'   

-  Label: 'Fire Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '5th June 2020'

Our Rating:
The retro cover art makes this album look like one of those 60s vinyl records that gets 'rediscovered' every 10 years or so. But looks can be deceiving.

There's nothing passé or backward looking about the content. The Irish singer's third album, following the two she made for Tompkins Square, is recognizably folk music but is not enslaved by tradition.

The one standard, The Blacksmith, a song previously recorded by Steeleye Span and Planxty, is rendered in a modern style as though to emphasize that its warning against deceitful men is true of any age. This track features backing vocals by Alasdair Roberts who also co-produced the album with Power and her husband Peter Broderick. It was recorded in an analogue studio, The Green Door, in Glasgow.

Her own lyrically enigmatic songs are graced by elegant, free-flowing arrangements. Added instrumentation comes from Brían Mac Gloinn (bouzouki and fiddle), Stevie Jones (bass) and Selah Broderick plays flute on I Was Named After You.

The opening track On A City Night has a catchy fiddle refrain but the tone overall is generally more reflective than joyful. The personal laments are clearly steeped in memory and melancholy but never stray into melodrama or self pity. The song title You Have A Quiet Power could stand as an accurate summary of her style with haunting vocals that are part Anne Briggs, part Beth Orton.

in 2018, emboldened by similar stories shared under the MeToo hashtag, Power wrote of her ordeal of being trapped in an abusive relationship . In Wearing Red That Eve she recalls having to endure shouted profanities from men but nowadays she refuses to be cowered and even sings of "feeling love for everything and everyone" .   

The carefree whistling in the title track that closes the album confirms that these excellent songs of experience are of a singer waving not drowning.

  author: Martin Raybould

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POWER, BRIGID MAE - Head Over Water