Susan McKeown - Belong (East River Music) 
Susan McKeown - Belong

Say what you like but in my head this album is the soundtrack to Irish immigrants arriving in the U.S. of A. and documenting their journey through the power of folk song. This might be naive on my part but Susan McKeown's cross Atlantic style straddles this experience beautifully. Kicking off with the gently sublime 'On The Bridge To Williamsburg' McKeown's voice mingles beautifully with that of Declan O'Rourke before 'The Cure' kicks things up a notch with a more lively melody based around some gorgeous guitar playing. 'Everything We Had Was Good' has already reached the top spot in the American Folk Chart and the country-folk duet with James Maddock deserves every accolade it receives for its understated beauty and honest sentiment. Title track 'Belong' is a Peggy Seeger-esque folk tale while 'Fallen Angel' is just a yodel away from being a track from the stage at the Grand Ole Opry in its heyday.  

McKeown's voice trembles and soars perfectly, showing tenderness, power and a sense of humour in equal measure which is a delight in a modern vocalist. On 'Lullaby Of Manhattan' the mood takes a turn for the dark as McKeown goes all Patti Smith singing over a mournful guitar riff and a doom-laden drum beat. Fortunately, our heroine has the ability to change the mood at the flick of a wrist as the tropically inspired 'City Of Roses' and optimistic 'Delph' can attest to. 'Patience' has a modern Country feel with a hint of the Indigo Girls about it while 'Our Texas' has a more traditional Country'n'Western feel to it. The album closes with 'No Jericho' which gives McKeown the chance for one last stretch of those impressive vocal chords from soft and sultry to soaring, powerful and intense. It's no surprise that this Irish songbird has already won a Grammy and with an album of original songs like this under her belt there are surely more awards to come.

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