Finbar Furey

Don’t Stop This Now

(BMG)

Long and deservedly a folk icon in Ireland and globally, hearing this very varied set of new songs from Finbar Furey is not just refreshing but really an intriguing pile of aural postcards that make the listener think as well as enjoy the singing, the melodies, the contribution of the players. Furey’s demeanour in conversation is humble but informative. These compositions mean something to Finbar and they will to you, too. This artist narrates and persuades, with no shouting or corny over-emoting. He puts this down to playing with musicians he respects and constantly learns from. A couple of vocal contributions from tuneful daughter Aine ice the cake.

As opening cut Sweet Liberty Of Life gets under way, you almost expect J J Cale to start singing ! He denies asking the band to play in that groove, explaining that the grove fell into place organically. His grainy voice tells of the elements of modern life in a conversationally mode. It’s a cracking start.

Next up is the title track Don’t Stop This Now, a fresh-air sound with pipes and the vibe is similar to a Willie Nelson gem, lovely strings and the delivery elegant and direct. Needs a 12-string, maybe ? Annabelle is peaceful and melodic, very well keyed for Furey’s voice. Banjo in the mix, this is elemental but sophisticated music from a master. It’s as gimmick-free as any listener could wish, but never sounds stale or dusty. We Built A Home is a moodier piece with soft synth in the background, proving again that story-telling is his strong suit.

The Galway Shawl takes you straight to the coast, the melody pretty much Appalachian or displaced Celtic, whichever way one approaches it. Next we have the baroque strings of Sarah Awaits. She waits for the return of a soldier, the reasons for war and its need for human fodder are considered. Just hearing Co-Exist transports this scribe to the misty banks of The Ganges. The banjo here weaves an Eastern spell.

The Taxi’s Waiting has father and Aine his daughter together on a warm and jaunty outing and perhaps it is no surprise that the voices blend beautifully. Aine sticks around for Hail Rain Or Snow which for me is a favourite in this programme, you just want to clap along and share the sentiment, the moment. Her voice has echoes of the lovely Kirsty McColl here and there.

Michael Power is a seafaring mystery tale, Neptune is evoked and Furey gets right inside this one with a musical backdrop that enhances its impact. By contrast Paddy Dear is an understated autumnal stroll with maybe the best vocal performance of the set. The wistful yet twinkle-in-the-eye I Was Further Than I Thought I Was is a story of immigrants, easy on its wish for understanding and tolerance. What a belligerent and OTT mess a lesser artist would have made of this ! But all the messages in these lyrics are put over with a gentle strength, so much part of the album’s appeal. I Remember You Singing This Song Ma reflects on early music absorption and exudes warmth. The pipes return for final song Lament For John, the very sound of dusk, over a synth bed that floats it all to conclusion.

If you come across an original record this year showcasing anything like this mix of humanity, experience and varied melodic settings, please do let me know…

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks to Asher and Republic Media)

Finbar Furey's new studio album 'Don't Stop This Now' is out now on BMG.

For tour dates and more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2Irsfm1

Finbar Furey