Her 2017 debut album Blue Fantasia was praised for its accomplished incursions into the jazz world, but it sounds like Edel Meade has spent the intervening years deep-diving into Irish culture. The Limerick-based musician's second album is shaped by our native folklore, history and contemporary society, as viewed through a 21st-century Irish woman's lens.
That inspiration is palpable on Long Way to Go, where Meade draws on everything from misogyny, #MeToo and the cervical cancer scandal for a powerful track that bristles with righteous anger. On Song of the Seal Meade tells the story of a displaced selkie; the hymnal Song for Bridget Cleary highlights the tragic 1985 death of her fellow Tipperary woman, who was accused of being a "changeling".
Meade’s jazz background filters into some of these songs, but these are generally unadorned piano-based arrangements, with her beautifully clear voice and unambiguous lyrics taking precedence over musical variance. That also means the collection makes for intense and often uncomfortable listening in places.
Ode to Old Noll/Ochón Ó combines a traditional lament with a song inspired by the Cromwellian destruction of Ireland, while Not for This World is a beautifully solemn and moving personal tale. This is a distinctive and highly original piece of work that will not fail to move you in some way, given time and space.