Ireland's music: Heidi Talbot
In Kildare, in Ireland, not so far outside Dublin, Heidi Talbot grew up in a family of nine kids. From her brothers and sisters she heard top chart hits of the day as much as she heard Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. That was a beginning of a love for songs of substance, songs of meaning, and songs which draw on tradition while speaking to present day which lasted from a start out singing in pubs through a number of years as lead singer with the top Irish American band Cherish the Ladies, and which Talbot carried over into her solo career as well. Her recording Angels Without Wings finds her exploring realms of her own songwriting as well as giving distinctive and well thought out interpretations of songs by musical friends.
With her voice and with her words, Talbot is a natural storyteller. On Angels Without Wings she offers stories of love gone right, and not so right, reflections, questions, a dash of humor and a lyrical look at life’s unfolding. The title track, which which written by Talbot’s frequent musical collaborator Boo Hewerdine and her husband John McCusker, is a a story of connection and hope told with both the lyrics and the singing leaving plenty of room for listeners’ own thoughts on hope and encounter. Will I Ever Get to Sleep? is a song anyone who has been around small children will get a laugh out of, as did Talbot, since she was writing the words while she and McCusker were driving back from a gig and Talbot was trying to feed their small daughter her lunch and keep her happy as things rolled along. My Sister the Moon is a lyrical, reflective poetic journey that is at once reassuring and questioning, while Dearest Johnny finds Talbot and McCusker reworking a traditional song to good effect.
It is Talbot's voice which centers the music here (if you do not know her sound, think Alison Krauss and Mary Black), but it’s delightful that she invited a number of musical friends along to the recording sessions in Glasgow. Several of them are folk you’ll have met here along the music road before. In addition to McCusker and Hewerdine, they include Tim O’Brien, Julie Fowlis, Karine Polwart, and King Creosote on backing vocals, James Mackintosh on percussion, Donald Shaw on accordion and piano, and Michael McGoldrick on whistles, flutes and pipes.