Monday, May 16, 2011
Noriana Kennedy, Kelly's Galway, Thursday May 5th
It's taken a while to put this in ink but good music, like good coffee, needs time to percolate.
Kelly's was packed for the Galway launch of Noriana Kennedy's debut album Ebb n Flow. Noriana had played in her native Dublin the night before but this show also had a home-town feel to it - over the past few years, Noriana has emerged as one of the most distinct voices on the Galway folk scene.
Taking to the stage, Noriana and her band launched into album opener I've Endured. It set the tone for a show that was glorious mix of grace and flair. Paul O'Driscoll kept things ticking on double bass; Stephanie Coleman and Cleek Schrey played some sublime old-time fiddling; Christof Van Der Van gave the best harmony singing you'll hear this side of David Rawlings and New Zealand guitarist Gerry Paul was a ball of uncoiling energy throughout the show.
The rallying point for all of this music was Noriana Kennedy's voice. A thing of rare magic, it was matched by a relaxed and assured stage presence. These musicians had only one rehearsal behind them ( a combination of geoghraphy and hectic schedules meant they recorded their parts on Ebb n Flow separately), and the gig had the palpable feel of friends having fun.
An early highlight from the set was Noriana's version of Damien Dempsey's Beside The Sea, a gem from his first album. He may be known for his righteous indignation , but Kennedy's reading of the song reveals an innocence and romance that is equally - if not more - important.
Who's Gonna Shoe was timeless and Cruel War sounded great too. If anyone was sitting on the fence about buying a CD, they were digging in their pockets now. A further exhortation to fork out for some fine music came when Sharon Shannon was invited on stage to play on Say Darling Say. The accordion player told the crowd she had been driving around all week listening to the album and loving it. I had never heard Shannon say anything on stage, so this was high praise indeed. Sharon mightn't say much, but it speaks volumes.
The evening was brought to a close by the encores of Willow Garden and Lazy John - to which Sean O'Regan added some Irish beatboxing (or should that be bayte-boxin?). Noriana Kennedy's music is pure folk, the good stuff, and deserves to fill many more rooms.