‘Portraits’ by Niamh Dunne delivers all you would expect and more(July 12, 2013)
A solo album by Niamh Dunne, lead singer with Beoga and daughter of piper Mickey Dunne, would always attract attention. Her debut ‘Portraits’ delivers all you would expect and more - from her distinctive voice and faultless delivery to the carefully selected and beautifully crafted songs. This is an album that not only allows Niamh free-range to choose the songs it also allowed her to work with a gathering of musicians that reads like a definitive list of talent. Alongside Niamh there’s Sean Óg Graham on guitars, bouzouki and banjo, Damien O’Kane plays banjo, Eamon Murray on bodhran and percussion, Trevor Hutchinson from Lunasa on bass, Kate Ellis cello, Caitriona McKay harp, Barry Kerr low whistles, Mickey Dunne plays Uileann pipes while backing vocals come from Noelie McDonnell and Nicola Joyce.
The songs encompass a wide scope of emotion from despair and conflict, lost lovers and leaving home, regret and hope. They range from the delightful longing of ‘Beauty of Limerick’ and the equally piercing sadness of ‘Shanagolden’ through a fine version of ‘When Autumn Comes’ Barr Kerr’s stirring tale of leaving, adventuring and returning to the deeply sorrowful tale of ‘Foxy Devil’. Slightly different to the other songs (but not out of place) is Joe South’s ‘Games People Play’ – a cry against pretence, cruelty and bigotry – given touchable presence by Niamh’s stunning cover.
With ‘Portraits’ Niamh has done exactly what it says in the title, painted studies in song that reflect the depth of Ireland’s storytelling tradition through vocal illustrations of life in all its guises and colours. You can find Niamh and ‘Portraits’ here: niamhdunne.com
Reviewer: Dan Holland