Carmel McCreagh: 13 Stories review – A singer of rare sensitivity

The vocalist cut her first album in her 50s, but sounds like she’s been doing it all her life

13 Stories
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Artist: Carmel McCreagh
Genre: Jazz
Label: All Times Records

Irish vocalist Carmel McCreagh spent her formative years in London during the swinging sixties, flirting with music but never really dedicating herself to a professional music career.

It took McCreagh until her fifties to release a debut album, the excellent Nice Girl, and since then the Tipperary-born vocalist has been making up for lost time, finding a space of her own somewhere between the classic jazz singers of the 50s and the folkier tones of Joni Mitchell and Ricky Lee Jones.

Of course it has helped that McCreagh's partner in life and music is pianist Fiachra Trench whose deft arranger's touch, particularly with strings, has been heard behind the Pogues, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney.

13 Stories, McCreagh’s third solo album, sounds like a singer who has been doing it all her life, an expansive, gorgeously realised collection of songs that glows with warmth and maturity.


Sympathetic contributions from the cream of Irish jazz, particularly saxophonist Brendan Doyle, and pitch perfect production from Trench and engineer Robert Watson, certainly help, but an a cappella bonus track, not listed on the album, of Lennon and McCartney's Blackbird, proves that even without her partner's gorgeous arrrangements, McCreagh is a singer of rare sensitivity.

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director