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ROSIE STEWART "Adieu to Lovely Garrison" Spring Records SCD1041

Garrison is the small town on the shores of Lough Melvin in County Fermanagh within those townlands both Rosie Stewart and her father, Packie McKeaney were raised. The song which gives its title to this, Rosie's first CD, is one of many that she learned from her father's singing and as with Farewell Dear Erne, is part of the strong musical tradition which survives unbroken in that corner of Edinburgh, of which Rosie is very much a part.

Since she first became known on the English scene some few years ago, Rosie Stewart has been much in demand at festivals and traditional clubs for her forceful, direct manner which revels in the songs, both musically and storywise. Rosie can put across a Music Hall ballad like Down Our Street, or a pure traditional song such as "The Green Mossy Banks of the Lee" (not the Nic Jones tune, this one!) with equal verve; her approach to the music betrays a simple and genuine love of songs and singing which owes nothing to academic research and everything to her background. What this CD lacks is the one thing to which Rosie responds best - a live audience; however, it makes up for this by revealing the aspect of Rosie's singing which won her wide respect throughout Ireland long before she became known this side of the Irish Sea - her consummate artistry and purety of voice and style. This is no easy listening album, it's one to put on at full volume with no distractions between you and the perfection of the notes coming out of the speakers.

The selection of tracks is bound to contain something new for most listeners; apart from the very local Fermanagh songs already mentioned there is a version of Reynardine, "Mountains of Pomeroy", in which the Mr Fox character of Bluebeard ancestry has metamorphosed in true Irish fashion into a freedom fighter who is genuinely in hiding from "the judge's men" - a favourite in Ireland rarely, if ever, heard here.

I'm actually finding it very hard to write this review simply because it's hard to find anything to say that can convey the quality of Rosie Stewart's singing, or of this CD. Anyone who had been in the audience at one of her rare club bookings in England or Scotland, or those in Ireland who have known and appreciated her singing for much longer, will need no encouragement to get hold of this long-awaited CD. To those who haven't yet had the pleasure, and who share the love of traditional music at its purest that Rosie represents, then it's high time you found out what you were missing!

Corinne Male

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This album was reviewed in Issue 28 of The Living Tradition magazine.