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The Sands Family- "Hope is in the Morning" - SCD1044

It says on the insert that Anne, Tommy, Calum and Ben Sands have been around for thirty years but they seem to have been in my ears for much longer than that. I honestly can't recall when I first became aware of them, but I've always had a great respect for one of the most talented families in Ireland. Between them, they've made some great songs; "There Were Roses", "The Man In The Cap", and that sharp comment on Northern life, "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing". None of those are here, but there's no Sunday League stuff either.

Nine of the thirteen songs are by family members, on subjects varying from drinking and busking to the lack of real difference between the two cultures in their part of Ireland. With some Irish songs, it's true about "the tear behind the smile"; with these songs, it's often the reverse. A nice touch is that introductions to songs are separately tracked so that you can skip them when you know all the words.

I'm not grumbling about the inclusion of Richard Thompson's "How Will I Ever Be Simple Again?", but they've so many of their own that say things better. Untypically, they attribute "Oro My Johnny" to Trad, when it's actually one of the late Seán McCarthy's. It's a compliment, I guess, if someone thinks your song's good enough to be traditional. I think Seán would have been tickled by that. In time, it will probably happen to the Sands family. Put simply, more good stuff from Rostrevor.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.