The Blue Cuckoo, Independent release ***
The song repertoire of the north- east gets another airing, hot on the heels of the recent Louth Mouths from Drogheda. Both that and The Blue Cuckoo feature The Voice Squad’s Gerry Cullen, who gathers an intriguing collection of songs, many of them intimately connected with his home county of Louth.Through a combination of picaresque tales (Bold Doherty), historical accounts (Napoleon’s Lamentation) and
alt.readings of well-worn staples (The Wild Rover), Cullen breathes life anew into his chosen song collection. Distilled sleeve notes pay due credit to local singers, including Pat Usher, Mary Ann Carolan and John Sheil, who passed the songs down the generations. Cullen even ventures a reading of St James’s Hospital, a less playful version of St James Infirmary, a song long-nurtured in the New Orleans tradition. Singers in search of a fresh perspective will mine a rich seam here.