Betty Harrigan – Full Circle

Betty Harrigan and CDBaby, 2013.

Betty Harrigan:

Betty Harrigan has a history with Irish traditional music that involves Feis competitions, solo work, and the St. Eugene’s Ceilidh Band, among others. Harrigan has performed on radio and television, across Europe and in local sessions at home in Ireland. Her classically trained voice is a treat in any of these venues, and she has a talent for choosing partner musicians that are far more than competent at their chosen instruments. While Harrigan may be an experienced live performer, Full Circle is her first studio album.

The flute in Old Brown Leather Album sets the tone as not your typical album, and something to enjoy. Flower of Magherally sounds like something from Loreena McKennitt’s early work. A bodhran makes an appearance in Cold, Rainy, Windy Night along with the flute and is a toe-tapping good song. In Stranger, there’s a distinct turn for more somber tones and more background vocals, as well as a bit of shaker playing. King’s Shilling picks up the beat a bit, and the technical demands of the flute as more than just flowery bits. The happy voice and quick beat are odd with the talk of mercenary soldiers, but it works on this song. Piano comes in prominently in As I Roved Out, and the acoustic guitar complements well. The Derry Quay borders on over-using cymbal crescendos, but is otherwise a solid song, and the crescendos do lend a feeling of crashing waves implying distance. Acoustic guitar takes front stage in Twisted Roots, and there’s a nice play with that and the flute; some hand drums (possibly bodhran?) finish out the sound well. If I Prove False to Thee is sweet simplicity and speaks of one’s desire to meet the needs of our loved one’s, even from a distance. This slow, doleful sound continues in Song for Westport, with possibly the best example of violin or fiddle on this album. Blacksmith is mostly a lean, stripped down tune and pulls it off well, although it does add complexity as the song continues.

Overall, Full Circle is a great example of female-driven Celtic folk, and a beautiful way to enjoy a cold day with a cup of tea.

Personnel: Betty Harrigan (vocals, guitar), Ciaran Carlin (flute), Peter Doherty (bass), Mark O’Doherty (drums), Ramon Ferguson (guitar), Robert Peoples (fiddle)

Tracks: Old Brown Leather Album; Flower of Magherally O; Cold, Rainy, Windy Night; Stranger; Kings Shilling; As I Roved Out; Derry Quay; Twisted Roots; If I Prove False to Thee; Song for Westport; Blacksmith


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