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MARY BLACK - Full Tide

MARY BLACK - Full Tide
3ú Records TORTVCD1168

There's probably something for most people here - and the album is brimming with the saccharine warblings that her legion of fans queue up for in their droves. Great material - three or four beauties from the late Noel Brazil, two Dylans, both polished and hitworthy.

The production is generously layered with excellent chums - but at times missing a vital identifying factor. For example, those of us familiar with Sandy Denny's original of Full Moon , and are frequently moved to tears by Acker Bilk's clarinet solo, will definitely feel that MB's version is lacking an obligato. Her intention may have been to play it safe - familiar material, competent musicianship, smooth production to the point of insularity - but there's a missing sparkle.

But there are crucial highlights that redeem the album - in particular the traditional Siú a Rún and St. Kilda Again (from Shane and Damian Howard), but the overall impression is of pedestrian, bland, mid-Atlantic (but mature) background music. Sadly nowadays Declan Sinnott's only current contributions are to MB's touring commitments, and his lack of presence on this album is tangible. Mary's loss is sister Frances' gain in that respect these days.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.