Sarah McQuaid


The Plum Tree and the RoseWaterbug Records ***

On her two previous solo albums she mined the fault lines of Irish and Appalachian music, and this time Sarah McQuaid ups the wattage on her own songwriting while exploring the histories of her adoptive England. There’s a rich, medieval quality to her reflections on the 16th-century entrepreneur, Bess of Hardwick, in Hardwick’s Lofty Towers. Her spare treatment of John Dowland’s Can She Excuse My Wrongs further anchors this collection in another time. McQuaid’s bold inclusion of two songs, New Oysters New and In Gratitude I Sing, with Niamh Parsons and Tom Barry, are refreshing celebrations of the neglected art of round singing, the trio’s voices swooping and soaring in formation. This collection unfurls its riches with each return visit. Catch McQuaid as she tours Ireland, with a Dublin date at Whelan’s tomorrow.

Download tracks: S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada, In Gratitude I Sing