A soothing warmth and intimate sweetness pervades the songs on Seoirse’s Until It’s Time For You To Go. The selection on this disc showcases the talents of a range of very skilled writers from both sides of the Atlantic. It brings listeners from the well-established song-writing syndicate called Masser/Goffin through the folk revival of the 1960s and some of the legendary singer / song-writer / guitarists – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan – who opened up the publishing industry to a broader spectrum of artists, coming full circle into more recent years with 4 songs by Mike Batt.
The richness and sophistication of Seoirse’s finely distilled performance belies the simplicity of the format of solo voice and six plucked nylon strings. The delicacy of his touch and tone has a sparkling harmonic purity that brings light to the darkest corners of the stories in the lyrics. The songs comprise professions of glorious humanity, memories powerfully conjured, scenes described with a painter’s eye and a lover’s heart. The compositions perfectly complement lines rich in diverse and original poetic images and breathtaking language.
This disc contains an outpouring of love gently and creatively proclaimed, wild, wistful, and well-grounded in forgiveness. In these songs, Seoirse steadily holds love as a sacred act of faith in cynical and broken times. This is music played with a grace you can fall into and emerge from dreaming deeper.
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s classic Until It’s Time For You To Go sets the keynote, but the mood changes to the quirky Mike Batt offerings that celebrate love as a catalogue of seductive metaphors, beginning with If You Were A Sailboat and then changing modes of transport to Nine Million Bicycles.
Leonard Cohen is also well represented on this disc with Song of Bernadette, I’m Your Man and the ubiquitous Hallelujah. What can one say about Cohen that hasn’t already been said? The man is a god among song-writers. San Carlos Water was written by Californian, Thom Moore, who spends long periods of time in Ireland. He is a man of extraordinary gifts, both as musician and lyricist, and has the uncanny knack of putting short stories of his own making to original melodies. However, he told me once that underneath many of his musical inventions lie the bones of Irish dance-tunes he heard while domiciled in Sligo in the 1970s.
The only Irish song on the disc that is entirely home-grown is Winter, Fire & Snow by Macdara Woods and Brendan Graham. This is a definitely a song for a winter’s night by the fireside! In contrast, Sting’s folk-like Fields of Gold – along with Kiukalani Lee’s I’ll Remember You – are essentially sun-kissed songs of reflection and remembrance. All seasons are represented in this collection! (I make no apology for the blatant sentimentality of the latter two offerings.) I was told once by a fellow musician that Saving All My Love For You and Closest Thing To Crazy would not be suitable songs for a man to sing. But you can easily reverse the voice gender of nearly any song that doesn’t contain a giveaway name like Mary or Richard. I don’t really believe anyway that emotional vulnerability is the monopoly of one gender only!
I got the seed of the musical arrangement for Saving All My Love For You from Donegal’s premier guitar virtuoso, Liam Deery. One night, many years ago, he played for me a stunning instrumental version of the song using very complex harmonics and subtle rhythms. That’s what creative music-making is all about: the serendipitous spin-off between fellow musicians!