Various Artists: The Joy of Living – Album Review

The Joy of Living A Tribute to Ewan MacColl
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Artist: Various Artists
Genre: Traditional
Label: Cooking Vinyl

To think that The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Dirty Old Town came from the same writer is testament to the three dimensional qualities that defined Ewan MacColl: as a polemicist, writer and singer.

This collection is tethered neither by stylistic predictability nor political uniformity.

The Unthanks jostle alongside Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bragg, Paul Buchanan and Martin Carthy.

It’s a who’s who of English and Irish and American folk (Rufus and Martha Wainwright get a peep in, alongside Christy Moore and Paul Brady), but the lingering feeling is of an impassioned campaigner who wrote as movingly of Cuban revolutionaries as he did of travellers.

This is a fine introduction to MacColl; for the old guard, a reframing of a long-loved songbook.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts