Sibéal – Sibéal review: Talented young artist plays it too safe on debut album

Meath Gaeltacht singer has a powerful voice but does not fully unleash it

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Artist: Sibéal
Genre: Traditional
Label: Universal Music Ireland

If you watched RTÉ’s Centenary in 2016, you may already be familiar with Sibéal Ní Chasaide. The then 18-year-old schoolgirl wowed audiences with a poised rendition of Mise Éire, which eventually led to a major label record deal.

Three years later, the woman from the Meath Gaeltacht has a debut album to present to the world. There are no huge surprises in her song choices, which range from the gentle canter of An Cailín Álainn to old ballad The Wind That Shakes the Barley, with The Beatles’ Blackbird and Ewan MacColl’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face about as contemporary as it gets.

It’s arguably played a little too safe, considering the power and vibrancy of Sibéal’s voice; crystalline on the lovely Mná na hÉireann, songbird-like on the stately Mo Ghile Mear, bearing a maturity beyond her years on The Parting Glass.

The string-laden arrangements throughout are well-paced, although by the time the closing track rolls around, the yearning to hear her do something a bit different is hard to ignore. That said, she manages to avoid the “mystical Celtic goddess” clichés on this collection – so let’s see what she does next.

Download: The Parting Glass, Mo Ghile Mear

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

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