Jed Marum,
Lone Star Stout
(Boston Road, 2007)

It is fitting that I sit reviewing this album in the later hours of Saint Patrick's Day. Recorded in Texas by a singer whose roots remain firmly in the Emerald Isle and featuring some of the best of contemporary and traditional Irish songs and tunes, this is the ideal closer of a national day.

Jed Marum has a love of the songs of Ireland and its history -- at home and in the United States -- and the talent to write lovely songs combining these elements. On his new album he eschews the writing and instead brings us his interpretation of some classics of the canon.

Opening with "Back Home in Derry," he is up to date in composition while depicting a time past. He steps back to 1798 with a spirited rendition of "The Rising of the Moon." Another era, the 1916 Rising, gives us the background to one of the great songs of love, patriotism and story telling that is "Grace."

He is a brave performer to group two songs directly together in the middle of the album. These are "Bard of Armagh" and "Streets of Laredo." Both trace their musical root to the same tree, although each song is entirely self-sufficient in the lyrics. Other standards on offer here include "Black Velvet Band," "Spancil Hill" and "Foggy Dew."

One must clear the mind when approaching an album like this because we all have versions of these songs swirling in our minds by particular performers with distinctive arrangements. Marum strips them back to voice and guitar, and to some they may sound unusual or even strange, having listened to lush accompaniments in the past, like the Chieftains and Sinead O'Connor on "Foggy Dew." But remember, this is probably closer to the original rendition.

With "Red River Valley" tying the bond to Texas, he completes another wonderful album -- although I'm a little less sure of the punning title.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Nicky Rossiter

28 April 2007

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