Michael Black,
Michael Black
(Compass, 2007)

Michael Black, the older brother of Mary and Frances and a member of the vocal group, the Black Family, has made a fine CD here. His self-titled solo release is living-room music. As you listen, you can easily imagine Black and a few friends and relatives scattered about his living room, playing and singing the songs they love simply because they love them.

This release doesn't have the feel of a disc issued to build the artist's reputation or make some money (although I'm sure Black would feel just fine if those things should happen). Instead, it sounds like the work of a man who has fallen under the spell of the music he is making and continues to do it simply for the joy.

The songs range from traditional ballads like "The Willow Tree" and "Billy O'Shea" to some of the best compositions of the new Irish songwriters, such as Shea Healy's "Terry Flynn" and John Richard's classic "The Deserter." His take on the anti-war song, "When the Boys are on Parade," is nothing short of chillingly delicious.

Black never oversings a song. He doesn't try to sell the material or himself. He knows the song is more important than the singer, so he performs them with the air of a man who wants you to hear the beauty that is already inherent in the material.

Michael Black is home-made music of the first order. It needs to be heard. So go hear it. You won't regret the decision.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

15 December 2007

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