Mary Black: Stories from the Steeples
With a storyteller's instinct and that distinctive voice, Black offers a gathering of songs that explore change, reflection, celebration, love -- and murder. Indeed, there’s a murder ballad here, Marguerite and the Gambler. Black says she was drawn to it at first because the story begins in the same way as the traditional Irish song Anachie Gordon, with a woman drawn to a man her father becomes set against, but, Black points out that “It ends in quite a different way!” It holds a story that will keep you listening, and a melody that will stay with you, as well.
In the first of three collaborations with guests on the album, Black joins up with Imelda May for an intertwining of voices that well suits the vivid images of journeys and returns on Mountains to the Sea. A quieter journey is the subject of The Night Was Dark and Deep, set as a vignette of a moment on a night car trip which paints a picture of a childhood memory. Just as it is with such memories, in the song not everything is explained. Healing, hope, resignation, and facing change all play their parts in varied ways in the songs Faith in Fate and Steady Breathing. Black and Finbar Furey join up for the lovely relaxed celebration of Walking With My Love, while Black adds understated grief and grace to the anti war song All the Fine Young Men.
Black’s children, Danny, Roisin, and Conor O’Reilly, are each involved in various tracks across the album. All three join in on a song which asks powerful questions (and which Danny wrote), The Night Is on Our Side. Lighthouse Light draws together ideas of journeys, change, and the continuance of love in a graceful song that is at once straightforward and complex, and makes a fine piece for Black and Janis Ian to share in the singing.
Songwriters new and time tested, emotions that last, stories well told and music that gets to the heart: those things, have been hallmarks of Mary Black's music across the years, and with Stories From the Steeples she takes the next right steps along that path. Come along for a listen.
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