Album Review - Cathie Ryan / Through Wind and Rain

It's been a few years since Irish-American singer Cathie Ryan's last album (The Farthest Wave in 2005), but it's great to have her back, and with a new collection of songs, and even a bit of a new sound. It seems, to me at least, that the new album, Through Wind and Rain, is a bit folkier than past outings. It mostly works great, though there are actually a few tracks that felt "too" folkie; like "I'm A Beauty," whose flat and preachy lyrics from songwriter Laura Smith were grating. But other songs, like "In the Wishing Well" and the Irish song "Mo Níon Ó" hit a nostalgic note for longtime listeners of Irish trad wishing for the glory days of the 1980s and 90s. And throughout, it's clear without any doubt that the true star of the album is Cathie Ryan's gorgeous, unforgettable voice. It's so beautiful and clear, like a mountain stream, that one can forgive all excesses without reproach. The best track on the album, "Fare Thee Well," is a show-stopping duet with folk singer Aoife O'Donovan (check out our exclusive interview with Aoife HERE), and a true showcase for Ryan's subtlety as a vocalist. She's got no need to shout, or max out the recording with her voice, she just fills the booth with a full ground swell of vocal purity. A cover of Kate Rusby's "Walk the Road" is another stand-out track, as is her cover of Irish guitarist John Doyle's song "Liberty's Sweet Shore." We got the scoop on the story behind this song in an earlier Inside the Songs post with Doyle, btw. Ryan's joined on her album by a list of amazing Irish and Celtic players, from Seamus Egan to Phil Cunningham, Joannie Madden to Niall Vallely, and so on, but it's really her vocals that stand out the most here, which is saying something.

All in all, there's no disputing that Ryan is one of the great voices of Irish music today, and her new album brings interesting new songs and a chance to really sit down an enjoy the magic of her voice.

Cathie RyanThrough Wind and Rain.

2012. Mo Leanbh Records.
 

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