Review Archive

‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ Rich McMahon “… connects with its spirit”

(February 28, 2015)

There’s long been a special character that works through the music and literature of Ireland – dealing with conflict, rebellion, independence, persecution and oppression. The soul doesn’t have to have to be born there to connect with its spirit, all that’s needed is to allow its lifeblood to seep into the heart Songs of Exileand you’re there. There’s an English born, Irish raised soul, Rich McMahon that epitomises that connection, and his album ‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ delivers exactly what the title offers … searching for identity, dealing with loss, separation, division and partition.

Opening with a raw vision of reality versus romantic reveries, ‘Imagined Nation’ reveals the lyrical quality of Mc Mahon’s songs as he shares the images his nation conjures. He then moves into the powerful ‘Dissenters’ – a strong song with a strong message, before ‘My Beautiful Guitar’, on the face of it a tongue-in-cheek reverie, holds that deep melancholy so loved by Irish balladeer, repeated in the deeply affecting ‘Beyond Borders’. The instrumentation on ‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ is spacious and probing, taking the obvious inheritance of its origins into wider and expansive directions.

These songs focus on experiences and involvements prompted by the past and present, on a personal level and through wider political and social perspectives. ‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ reflects the influence of tradition while working within contemporary comment, typified by ‘Inbetweenland’ - lyrics that contact, pulsating percussion and cutting harmonica breaks, ‘A Mother’s Lament’ - words to break your heart, and the profound truths of‘Ten Thousand Miles From Dublin’. There's perceptive observation and narrative investigation through penetratingly concentrated lyrics … the result is soul-searching, fatalism and expectation echoing both sadness and resilience.

With ‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ McMahon proves his keen recognition of Ireland ‘then and now’, expresses the isolation and uncertainty of crossing cultures and imparts feelings all can understand. Find Rich McMahon here:

Musicians playing on ‘Songs Of Exile, Love & Dissent’ are Rich McMahon (vocals, guitar, harmonica) Gerry Diver (guitars, strings, percussion) Sam Mc Mahon (backing vocals) and Jenny Grove (cello).

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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