Niamh Dunne: Tides review — A picaresque odyssey of piano, fiddle and cello

Unhurried, thoughtful solo collection full of heart and soul

Pink disc against teal background, with small circular white flowers scattered on the pink disc
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Artist: Niamh Dunne
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent Release

Having earned her chops as fiddle player and vocalist with Beoga over 20 years, and co-written and performed with Ed Sheeran, headlining with him at Glastonbury, Niamh Dunne has taken her time in releasing this, her second solo album. The long gestation serves her well. Tides is a deeply considered and generously endowed collection of original songs, all composed or co-composed by Dunne, with her fellow Beoga member Seán Óg Graham and Michael Keeney (who also co-produced).

From the beautiful cover by Ruth Medjber to the glorious interplay of piano, fiddle and cello (from the ever-sublime Kate Ellis), Dunne sets the foundations for a picaresque odyssey. Wending her way through tales of Irish history that cross-cut with her own family history in The O’Raghallaigh and Roads of Old Tralee to the imagined conversation across three generations of her family on Stories and the tidal impact of her work as founding member of Fairplé, Dunne’s perspective is always refreshingly at bird’s-eye level, inviting the listener to be part of each riveting tale.

Echoes of her singing hero Karan Casey can be heard in the delicacy of her phrasing and vulnerability of her tone, particularly on Did You Ever Love Me? This is an unhurried, thoughtful collection that’s full of heart and soul. A long player to be savoured deep into the night.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts