Barry Gleeson


Tough Night Claddagh Records***

Barry Gleeson’s third solo album is a busy collection: 16 songs spanning everything from the ancient aisling tradition (The Colleen Rue) to a Yeatsian lament (The Curse of Cromwell). Many of these songs shimmer in the white heat of live performance but falter somewhat against the sometimes florid arrangements that Gleeson bestows upon them.

The roll call of guests swings from The Voice Squad to Grace Toland, and the inspired Kevin Conneff on bodhrán. Gleeson duets with Lauralee Curtin on My Love Came to Dublin, but the song sacrifices its edge to the pieties of a maudlin treatment. Tamango’s is a tale of contemporary courting that falls at the hurdle of weak wit: yet the closer, The Knight Templar’s Dream, is a triumph of bold arrangement, Gleeson’s gravelly voice countered by Peter Eades’s voluminous church organ. Stripped back to bare vocals, Gleeson is at his best; scabrous wit and salty voice in mighty unison.