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Niamh Boadle - Wild Rose (Self Release)

Star rating: 
3

It would be more than enough to have Lancashire-based Niamh Boadle around purely as a traditional singer - a fresh young voice interpreting songs from the English, Scottish and Irish traditions - but in addition to this, Niamh also happens to be an informed guitar player and multi-instrumentalist with a knack for knocking out quite accomplished self-penned songs to boot.

The folk establishment is adept at dishing out awards to our young performers and in most cases if not all, it's usually very much deserved. Niamh has already been nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards and has furnished her mantelpiece with gongs galore, including medals from the All Britain and All Ireland Fléadhanna, a win at the 2009 Fred Jordan Memorial Singing competition at last year's Bromyard Folk Festival and another win at the 2010 Wath Festival, picking up the BPAS Young Acoustic Roots Competition award, which in all fairness is too big even for Citizen Kane's mantelpiece. The awards heaped upon this very young musician is all very well and much appreciated I'm sure, but I get the distinct feeling that the priority for this singer is just to sing, to play and to be heard.

It was only a matter of time then, that Niamh would enter the studio, in this case The Very Tiny Studio in Otley, presided over by Gerry McNeice who shared production duties, in order to put down fourteen songs and tunes for her much anticipated debut. WILD ROSE is the result; a collection of traditional songs and tunes, together with a couple of Niamh's own compositions, performed as close to how you would hear her in a live setting. The production is crisp and clear, with an emphasis on making Niamh's voice the focal point, which in all fairness it should be.   

The song choices range from the traditional Irish Banks of the Roses and the traditional Scottish Banks of the Clyde, to the very English Lovely Joan, which is cleverly intertwined with Winifred Horan's gorgeous A Daisy in December, complementing the arrangement superbly well. 

Niamh also includes a couple of her own compositions including Kilgrimol Bells, with its eerie tale of church bells ringing from beneath the sea (Kilgrimol Sands also featured as a backdrop to the cover portrait) and Oceana's Lullaby, a haunting historical ballad tracing a notable period in Niamh's sea faring ancestry. Both the WB Yeats inspired Come Away and the tune used as a backdrop to The Knight Upon the Road, demonstrates an understanding and flair for adaptation. With contributions from Katriona Gilmore providing fiddle on P Stands for Paddy, Niamh's sister Roisin playing flute on Come Away and January Snows/Lafferty's and Gerry McNeice on double bass almost throughout, Niamh presents a debut that accurately lives up to her live performances and her growing reputation as a fine young folk artist.

The cherry on top of this fine collection, is a fine reading of A Lass of Glenshee, which not only reveals the inspiration for the album's title, but also provides an optimistic finale to what can only be described as a first rate debut.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky