Sunday, April 14, 2013



Mary Coughlan: Ancient Rain

Another post and another strong female singer. I love Mary Coughlan, her voice and her vocal style oozing a sexuality that smacks of some distant promise, without being too obvious. Hell, no, scratch that, sometimes it is so overt and obvious that it leaps directly into your bed, inviting your ears to join her in a glorious union. Known perhaps more as an interpreter than a writer, and with a foot in each of the camps of folk, blues and jazz, Ancient rain is actually a song she wrote herself, appearing on an early EP, with an effortlessly mystical storyline, infused with a heady whisk(e)y whiff of alcohol.

I won’t labour the oft told stories of her multiple demons and awkward journey to diva-hood and back down again: that can all be found in the wonderful world of wiki. Neither will I even begin to pretend any truth in a mythology that equates artistry with suffering. She can just sing with a soul that belies more than mere vocalisation. And there is inevitably a feel that even if english may be the language, it is the very last thing she is actually singing in.

The backing is of course important, and I couldn’t find any credits to confirm, yet I would be astonished if it weren’t Richie Buckley on consummate saxophone. Check the wonderful solo out towards the end of the song. Seemingly the go to man for sax across Ireland, he has played with any and every hibernian artist worth their salt, from Van the man to Christy Moore, not excluding Sinead O’Connor and Sharon Shannon. He has a melodious keen to his playing that resonates, within my head at least, with the playing of some of the masters of the uillean  pipes  On the two occasions I have seen Mary Coughlan play live, at least a good part of the pleasure has been via his presence and playing, whether in the grandeur of Symphony Hall in Birmingham, as part of the Womans heart tour, or a backstreet bar in the same city, to an audience a tenth the size, if that.

Finally, as an aside to the theme and the post, however, and as a riposte to the Temptations, jeez, I wish it would stop raining, at least here in UK…….

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