Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh: Thar Toinn / Seaborne review – Dive right in
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
In a digital world where no storage limits apply, it’s all too tempting for artists to fill the void. This six-track capsule project from west Kerry singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh avoids that temptation, opting instead to distil her musical musings on all things maritime to just six tracks, each one meticulously curated: a jigsaw puzzle that satisfies by virtue of its symmetry.
Nic Amhlaoibh wears her obsession with the ocean through her name (Muireann meaning sea maiden) and her thoughtful song choices. That voice is laden with her story, grounded in the riches of her west Kerry roots, where songs anchor singers across the length and breadth of Corca Dhuibhne.
The opener, Faoiseamh Faoistine, adapted from the writing of the late poet Domhnall Mac Síthigh, with guitar accompaniment by Gerry O’Beirne is a delicately stitched ode to both land and sea, where Nic Amhlaoibh’s voice soars from the opening verse. Geography poses no boundaries to her gathering together of compatible bedfellows, with songs from Cork, Tyrone, west Kerry and Cape Breton cosying up alongside one another like long-lost relatives at a family reunion.
Throughout, less is more, with the iconic west Kerry air Port na bPúcaí a standout: accompanied by rarely heard lyrics, and with accompaniment from her husband, Billy Mac Fhloinn, on his Turkish-inspired home-produced instrument, the yaybahar. The musical life aquatic: nothing for it but to dive right in.