The Busk: Bono, The Frames, Damien Rice and more sing a song for the homeless

Folk, rock and spoken word collide on Dublin Simon charity album

The Busk
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Artist: Various Artists
Genre: Alternative
Label: Self-released

If you’ve ever found yourself on Dublin’s Grafton Street on Christmas Eve over the years, you may have stumbled upon The Busk – an annual opportunity to catch some of Ireland’s biggest music acts taking to the streets for a singsong. The informal event has raised money for homeless charity Dublin Simon over the years, and now it’s available in album form.

Recorded at St Patrick’s Cathedral last December and with an accompanying film also available, this is a charming hodgepodge, even without the charitable nature of the project. Enabled by the live aspect, imperfect tellings of Running to Stand Still – with Bono aided and abetted by the informal Busk Choir – stay true to the project’s rough and ready spirit.

The same motley choir, comprised of artists, crew, Dublin Simon staff and others, lend an impassioned essence to Liam Ó Maonlaí’s tender take on Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. Elsewhere, Glen Hansard is in fine voice with his Frames bandmates on their acoustic Fitzcarraldo, Damien Rice turns in a folky, droney Astronaut accompanied by Hansard and Rónán Ó Snodaigh, and Dublin band Big Love’s soulful track Lily is a highlight.

There are spoken word numbers, too – most notably Manchán Magan’s affecting reading of Seán Ó Riordáin’s poem Ní Ceadmhach Neamhshuim, or Against Indifference – an apt choice, considering the beneficiaries of this album’s profits.


A noble group effort for a good cause, but also an eminently pleasant listen.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times