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Christy Moore Burning Times Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Chritsy Moore offers hsi strongest solo set for some time, in collaboration with...

Jon Lusk 2004

There are few characters who've played a bigger part in the story of Irish music than modern day troubadour Christy Moore. Whether singing others' songs or his own in a distinctively kind-hearted but gently compelling brogue, he's been a key figure in Irish roots music for more than four decades whether with trad supergroup Planxty, folk/jazz/rock fusion outfit Moving Hearts, or as a compelling solo performer. Though by the late '90s ongoing health problems had forced him into semi-retirement, a second reformation of Planxty (the first was in the late '70s) brought him back into the spotlight in 2004.

Burning Times reunites Christy with Moving Hearts co-founder Declan Sinnott, and is his first new solo material since the rather lacklustre This Is The Day (2001). I'm happy to say it's a significant return to form, strongly reminiscent of his best solo work in the '80s.The voicesounds reinvigorated, the choice of material is a good deal more inspired, and Sinnott's lovely multi-instrumental accompaniments and production are tastefully assured, helping to make this very easy on the ear.

Christy has never been a prolific songwriter, and the material here is all covers; the Moore magic is to make them sound like originals. He neatly inhabits Richard Thompson's "Beeswing" as a slow jig, and brings Joni Mitchell's "The Magdalene Laundries" back home. Speaking of which `there's also a convincingly fresh take on Bob Dylan's classic "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol".

Continuing his commitment to championing Irish songwriters, he includes "Mercy", by long-term collaborator (and fellow Dubliner) Wally Page. There's also "Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar", which celebrates Cork's thriving singer/songwriter community. And then there's Morrissey's sardonic "America, I Love You", which once got Christy into trouble, as he explains in his entertaining sleeve notes.

As if to show he does have time for aspects of Americana other than greed and imperialism, he interprets two songs by gothic alt-country oddballs The Handsome Family, the best of which is the brooding, eerie reading of "Peace in the Valley Once Again". This post-apocalyptic portrait of nature reclaiming and healing our damaged and deranged world chimes with Moore's anti-nuke campaigning of the 1980s as well as the more pastoral aspects of his artistic vision.

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