Mary Dillon has been almost entirely absent from the music world (save for providing occasional guest vocals) for over a decade since her work with Irish band Déanta in the 1990s. But her leave of absence, which she took to raise a family, is finally over and she has returned triumphantly with her first solo album; North.
Mary has re-emerged onto the scene in a haze of glory as she unleashes her incredible voice upon the world once again. Needless to say that the biggest attraction of the album is Dillon’s clear-cut, hauntingly beautiful voice, infused with a subtle Irish inflection which both soothes and moves you. Growing up in a musical family, surrounded by a host of traditional folk melodies it’s no surprise that in her debut solo album she opts for a blend of traditional folk songs as well as those penned by her own hand. From traditional Celtic songs such as Ard Tí Chuain to the affecting John Condon, the sheer beauty in her voice combines with the time-honoured lyrics and brings each song to life with a dignified passion that’s almost palpable and capable of rendering you speechless.
Her soft, traditional sound is carried by a light and brisk music that wafts through each song like a fresh spring breeze. A wonderful Celtic element is instilled in the music as gentle guitars coincide with fiddles and cellos to create a blend of music that is both cheering and heartening. Jovial songs such as The Banks of Claudy and When a Man’s in Love exemplify this as she interweaves the pleasant tunes with her honey-sweet voice and the wry, touching lyrics to create deeply meaningful and poignantly uplifting songs. These are complimented further by a scattering of melodious and sombre songs such as The Boatman and her rendition of The Month of January which are carefully interspersed throughout the album. These more tranquil tunes allow Dillon to really demonstrate her full vocal capacity as the music takes a step backwards and we are left with little but her stunning voice.
North is an album that feels more like the ripples on a still lake; peaceful and soothing but with something much deeper underneath. Mary Dillon’s incredible vocals help to make it an excellent example of everything that’s right with the folk music of today as well as of times-gone-by.
For more information about Mary’s new album or her previous work, check out her website below:
Also, Mary has made available two tracks for full download: When A Man’s In Love and Ard Tí Chuain: Tí Chuain
Mary has also offered an insite into each of these songs:
WHEN A MAN’S IN LOVE
‘It’s a comedy, rather than a love song, I think. The male character is a bit of a chancer! I think the man who wrote it must have done so with his tongue in his cheek!’
ARD TÍ CHUAIN
‘Ard Tí Chuain had a captivating melody. The melody is an ancient Irish air, and the lyrics were written by Gaeilge poet Séan Mac Ambrois in the 19th Century. If ever a song had soul, it is this one.’
Review by Joe Knipe