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GERALDINE MACGOWAN & FRIENDS "Timeless" Magnetic Music Records MMR CD 1029

The owner of one of Ireland's great voices has been on the music scene, incredibly, for some two and a half decades. In the 1970s she founded the legendary Oisin, with whom she recorded and toured for over ten years. After Oisin, she and husband Shay opened in Hanover, the MacGowan & Son Irish Pub, which rapidly established itself as one of Germany's premier venues for live Irish music. In the late '90s she made two acclaimed solo CDs, "Reconciliation" and "Till The Morning Comes".

So how does "Timeless" measure up? MacGowan has an eclectic choice of material; in addition to the traditional numbers (which she invests with an engaging freshness and spontaneity) are Sandy Denny's "Listen, Listen" and "One Way Donkey Ride", Kieran Halpin's "Don't Come Looking" and "Mirror Town" and a setting of a poem by Oliver St John Gogarty. She has also chosen her musical 'friends' with some care; Chris Jones (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals) and Brian O'Connor (flutes, whistles) provide subtle accompaniment which perfectly complements her performance. In return, MacGowan allows them to show what they can do on a couple of instrumentals.

In the end, though, what makes this CD such a fine piece of work (and will persuade me to continue playing it even after I've completed this review) is McGowan's voice, a wonderfully expressive instrument, and her sensitive phrasing, equally at ease with "Blackwaterside" as Mick McCarthy's "Dan Malone". I suspect that she's not going to be spending too much time in her German pub from now on.

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.