Liz McNicholl,
Grand Central Station
(D&G, 2002)

What can you say bad about an album featuring a lilting voice, unique style, traditional Irish fare and contemporary folk music and, last but not least, a tribute to the firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001?

Born Liz Dolan in County Meath, Ireland, McNicholl sang in competitions and concerts from an early age, teaching herself to play guitar at 16. She came to the United States in 1985, planning to stay only a year -- but love had other plans. She married Aaron McNicholl, a native of County Tyrone. They now live with their two sons in Connecticut.

Following the birth of her children, she took a break from performing. Fortunately for her fans, she came back to music in 1999, playing as a soloist and with her own band and, on occasion, with the acclaimed female group, Cherish the Ladies.

Her debut album, Grand Central Station, features two of her original compositions -- the title track, which describes her impressions of New York, and the lovely "Healing Heart." Other winners on the album include Sting's "Fields of Gold," which she dedicated to the late Eva Cassidy, the traditional air "Carrickfergus," "The Bravest," which honors the heroes who died on Sept. 11, and "Home Away from Home." But there really are no losers on this album. It's a thoroughly enjoyable collection.

Backup on the album is provided by Gabriel Donohue on an amazing variety of instruments; Joannie Madden on tin whistle, low whistle and flute; Eamonn O'Rourke on fiddle and mandolin; Steve Holley on drums; Blakely Donohue on zither ("Fields of Gold"); and Rebecca Widness adding vocals ("The Island").

by John R. Lindermuth
18 November 2006

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