George Murphy and The Black Donnellys – Irish Music – Ballads

george murphy - irish musicAlbum Title: The Ballads of Archie Thompson

Artist: George Murphy

This is a CD of new and old Irish and non-Irish folk music in the traditional style.  George Murphy is a young Irish singer and this CD is merely the beginning of what will likely be a long career.  He has a very distinct voice that is suited well to folk music.  It took me a few plays to get acquainted to his unique voice.  This is Mr. Murphy’s first USA album, and third album over all. He got his start on the Irish version of American Idol and hadn’t done much singing in public before then. His voice is clear, distinct and strong, although sounding unnaturally staged at times.  Sometimes it seemed his accent was much stronger than at other times.   I can’t wait to hear how he sounds with even more maturity.

This album is getting difficult to find for purchasing but it is worth finding it.  Check on iTunes and at Amazon.

The Black Donnellys are the backing group for George Murphy on this CD.  They have backed other people over the years and consist of Dave Browne (mandolin, guitar), Dave Hughes (bass, whistles), Stephen Browne (drums), Sharon Hussey (fiddles, whistles), Dave Rooney (guitar, vocal), and Gavin Carpenter (banjo, vocal).  They are needless to say, excellent musicians.  Hughes and both Brownes (mostly Dave) do some fine arranging on some of the tracks here.  Sharon O Brien also does some backing vocals on this CD.

The recording is slightly uneven and some songs seem to either be recorded in a different location, by a different person or with different equipment.

George Murphy – The Songs on “The Ballads of Archie Thompson”

The Foggy Dew
If you haven’t heard this song before you likely live under a rock or perhaps never heard much Irish music. This version is somewhat made more exciting by the rowdy interpretation that ensues shortly after the beginning of the track, with the help of John Sheahan and Barney McKenna from The Dubliners (an interesting traditional group in their own right).

The Lifeboat Mona
A Pete Seeger folk song, and you can almost hear him singing it.  One of your typical shipwreck tunes that is done well by the lead singer although it may take you awhile to get acclimated to his unusual voice.

A Bob Dylan folk song.  There seems to be two singers in this track but it’s hard to tell for sure, which one is which.  It does feature Christy Dignam of Aslan as a vocalist.

Round This Town
I liked this song, although it does not really sound Irish or Celtic.  It is a pleasant folk tune with interesting words. Written by George and The Black Donnellys, this tune grew on me the more I listened.

Peggy Gordon
A traditional Irish folk song sung to a lady. I am not sure but it seems this track was recorded at a different location than the previous tracks.  It has broader echoic sound.  It is militaristic and proud in its style and beat.  It was OK, not great, but not bad.

The Ballad of SpringHill
Another Pete Seeger tune.  A basic simple folk tale of tragedy, sung in a traditional manor very well by George.  Very traditional for folk music.

Star of the County Down
George Murphy has a strong and hardy voice, and he is actually quite young on this CD.  This is an impressive version of this traditional song that you likely have heard from other artists. A toe tapper.

The Auld Triangle
One of my favorite Irish songs and impressively done here with George Murphy’s voice seeming much older than it is.  This is sung with no accompanying instrumentalists, which is always impressive.

Ballad of Archie Thompson
An original song.  Archie is a fictional character reminiscent of a typical older, pot-bellied, heavy drinking Irish gent at a bar who is thinking back on the events of his life at sea.
No Night Out in the Jail
A rowdy tune with hollering in the background but don’t expect a Pogues type rowdiness. This one is more like what you might hear when a bunch of musicians are together in a small Irish bar and the patrons are swinging their beers around.

Overall we liked “The Ballads of Archie Thompson” and can’t say much negative about it other than the uneven recording of the CD.  We recommend it for purchase if you are interested in Folk music and Irish Folk Music as it does present an upcoming artist in his early years and the tracks are interesting to listen to lyric wise.  George Murphy’s voice is easy to understand and he pronounces each word clearly.   Some may not like his voice.  This CD grew on me the more I listened.  Always give a CD more than one play over a number of weeks before you judge it.  The Black Donnellys are a pure delight to hear too and a bonus on this unique Irish CD.

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