Tommy Fleming,
A Life Like Mine
(Universal, 2006)

Tommy Fleming is an artist who seems to have the uncanny knack of picking just the right songs to strike a chord in his listeners. His albums combine the new works of various writers with better-known tracks with the latter getting a slightly new arrangement. This album is no different.

Over the bakers' dozen of tracks, we find new writers, but also some of his favourite writers like Jimmy McCarthy and Phil Coulter. Opening with "Open Sky," you are drawn in by his effortless delivery that belies a strong emotional investment in each song. He follows this with a wonderful rendition of "Don't Want to Talk About It."

The album is worth buying for the single track "Lakes on Ponchartrain." I know, you have this by Christy Moore, Ry Cooder or a dozen other artists who do great work on the beautiful song, but Fleming gives it another dimension. Maybe it's his diction and depth, but listening to this and some other familiar tracks I find myself appreciating the lyrics as never before.

The same happens on his version of McCarthy's fantastic song about Ireland, "Mystic Lipstick." Once again the meaning becomes so clear on this album, making a great song even better. He takes on Tommy Makem's song of Ireland in "Four Green Fields."

But it's not confined to Irish themes and writers. Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee" is another strong contender for a favourite track. The one-time anthem of Ireland's capital, "Summer in Dublin," is given a wonderful arrangement and lets you almost smell the Liffey and feel that summer city sun.

He closes the album with Johnny Duhan's song that could be a useful philosophy, "Don't Give Up 'Til Its Over." Sadly at that point the album is over, but then you remember why there is a button marked "repeat" on your panel.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Nicky Rossiter

6 October 2007

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