Won't You Come Away

by Maggie Boyle

Maggie Boyle was an exceptional traditional singer. Through her ballads, old and new, she continues the tradition of music and storytelling passed down through her Irish heritage.

Maggie Boyle: Voice Flute Whistle Harmonium

Accompanied by: Paul Downes: Guitar Mandocello Mandolin

Jon Boden: Fiddle

Dave McKeown: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Melodica, Wind Synth

Steve Tilston: Arpeggione

Dave Wood: Arnold Resonator Guitar

Reared in the musically vibrant London‐Irish community of the 1960s and ‘70s, she and her brothers acquired the music from their father. Paddy Boyle was a native speaker from the Donegal Gaeltacht townland of Derryloughan , Nr Glenties. Her other main tutor was Oliver Mulligan, a great singer from Co. Monaghan, and resident in London.

‘Won’t You Come Away’ is only the third solo album from Maggie Boyle. Her previous two ‘Reaching Out’ and ‘Gweebarra’ came out, respectively, in 1987 and 1998. Aside from these acclaimed solo projects, Maggie has recorded numerous collaborations with the likes of John Renbourn and Steve Tilston (the latter also playing on this new solo work) and her vocals appear in the major motion pictures ‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Legends Of The Fall’.

1 Moorlough Mary / The Streams of Bawdeen 

Paul: guitar 
Steve: arpeggione 
Maggie: flute 

My hazy memory informs me that Des O’Halloran – the extraordinary singer from Inishbofin - used to sing an amazing version of this at the Hibernian sessions in Fulham Broadway in the ‘70s, so I think that’s where I got the tune. Pretty much the same tune is annotated by Sean O’Boyle in his wonderful book, “The Irish Song Tradition”, which also transcribes John Doherty’s version of the words, as heard by O’Boyle. I love it because it leaves plenty of room for a happy outcome, whereas other versions are a bit less optimistic. 
Paul’s beautiful tune could not be a better match. 

2 The Trees They Do Grow High 

Paul: guitar 
Jon: fiddle 
Dave W: Arnold resonator guitar 

From the singing of Peter Bellamy (excepting the tiny changes I made – including a few words from Jeff Warner. Thanks Jeff!). Peter made his customary, indelible mark on this popular folk story. I hope he would have approved of this (he’d certainly have told me if he did not!). 

3 Dawning 
(Words by Frances Watt / Tune ‘Johan Malin Wessléns Bröllopspolska’ by Olov Johansson) 

Paul: guitar / mandolin Jon: fiddle Maggie: flute I heard my dear friend, Frances, sing this at a party last autumn. I was so struck with everything about it – but the uplifting words in particular. It’s hard to believe it’s her first song. It seems it’s now a bit on the fast side to dance a polska to, but don’t let that stop you trying! 

4 Once in a While 
(Steve Ashley) 

Paul: guitar Dave McK: clarinet From Steve’s wonderful concept recording, ‘Family Album’, I first heard this song about twelve years ago, and felt an immediate and strong affinity with it. A granny before my time! If you don’t know Steve’s work, seek him out. 

5 The Spinning Wheel 
(Words John Waller / tune Seamus Kavanagh) 

Paul: guitar Jon: fiddle Dave W: Arnold resonator guitar Popularised by Delia Murphy and Ronnie Ronalde, I last heard this sung on a Christmas Day in the late ‘70s; the rarest and most moving rendition by Mum and two of her sisters, Nancy & Eileen. Not one of them dropped a single note or syllable, despite what must have been many, many years since any of them sang. This is for my cousin, Rose, Eileen’s beautiful daughter. 

6 Donal Óg 

Paul: mandocello Jon: fiddle Maggie: harmonium Here is song from my mentor, Oliver Mulligan of Co. Monaghan (and longtime London resident). About 45 years ago, my Dad brought Oliver to our home in Battersea - to teach me some serious traditional singing. I did my homework; it was no chore. I adore this song. 

7 Liza and Henry 
Joe Tilston 

Paul: guitar / mandolin Steve: arpeggione Dave W: Arnold resonator guitar Maggie: vocal harmony My son Joe wrote this. As a long time punk/ska/metal bass player, I never imagined that I would be singing one of his compositions. Now re-introduced to his acoustic side, he’s sounding more like his Dad every day! I don’t think the inspiration for this song needs spelling out. 

8 Old Man’s Retreat 
(Nick Burbridge) 

Paul: guitar Dave McK: bass clarinet Maggie: flute / harmonium As evidenced here, Nick is an amazing poet and songwriter. I think this has to be the most intense and serious song I have attempted, but it is drenched in such lyrical beauty that I find it completely irresistible. 

9 Lament for John Doherty / Betty-Sue Southall / Paddy Boyle’s Highland 
(Margaret McGinley) (M.Boyle) (Charlie Lennon) 

Maggie: flute / whistle Paul: guitar My aunt Margaret wrote this lovely slow air in memory of the Donegal tinker-fiddler, John Doherty, whom she had known all her life. The second tune came to me while dancing with my newborn granddaughter, Betty-Sue; there was no conscious writing process involved. The highland is a dearly appreciated composition by the mighty Charlie Lennon, in honour of Dad. 

10 The Green Linnet 

Another song from dear Oliver. Given to me, as I recall, on the same session as Donal Óg. A classic. How lucky I was. 

11 Christmas in No Man’s Land 
(Mick Ryan) 

Paul: guitar Dave McK: melodica / wind synth Maggie: vocal harmonies Mick specialises in historic theme songwriting, with a strong bent to the ordinary man’s and woman’s perspective. Much has been written about the 1914 WW1 ‘Christmas Truce’, and this is a welcome and beautiful addition to that body of work. 

12 On Yonder Hill / Boxty Bailey 
(traditional) (P Downes) 

Paul: guitar Jon: fiddle Dave McK: wind synth Maggie: flute Some time in the late ‘70s, Oliver handed me a tape of Geordie Hanna (of Co. Tyrone) singing this single song. In turn, I highly recommend that you find Geordie on youtube, singing “Old Ardboe”. It’s rare - and great quality - footage. I wish I had met the man. On Yonder Hill inspired this sweet, planxty-like new tune from Paul; our fearless producer inspired the title! 

13 Linden Lea 
(W. Barnes / R. Vaughan Williams) 

Paul: guitar Jon: fiddle These exquisite words were written by 19th century poet, William Barnes, in his beloved Dorset dialect, and set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I recorded this song many years ago, and am pleased to have done so again – I will never tire of singing it. 
Moorlough Mary / The Streams of Bawdeen
The Trees They Do Grow High
Words by Frances Watt / Tune ‘Johan Malin Wessléns Bröllopspolska’ by Olov Johansson
Paul: guitar / mandolin Jon: fiddle Maggie: flute I heard my dear friend, Frances, sing this at a party last autumn. I was so struck with everything about it – but the uplifting words in particular. It’s hard to believe it’s her first song. It seems it’s now a bit on the fast side to dance a polska to, but don’t let that stop you trying!
Sample not available
Once in a While
Steve Ashley
Sample not available
The Spinning Wheel
Words John Waller / tune Seamus Kavanagh
Sample not available
Donal Óg
Sample not available
Liza and Henry
Joe Tilston
Sample not available
Old Man’s Retreat
Nick Burbridge
Sample not available
Lament for John Doherty / Betty-Sue Southall / Paddy Boyle’s Highland
Margaret McGinley) (M.Boyle) (Charlie Lennon
Sample not available
The Green Linnet
Christmas in No Man’s Land
Mick Ryan
Sample not available
On Yonder Hill / Boxty Bailey
Trad/Paul Downes
Sample not available
Linden Lea
W. Barnes / R. Vaughan Williams

Folk London

Mike Norris

Maggie Boyle's musical roots were nourished in the musically vibrant London Irish community of the 1960s and 1970s. Coming therefore from a culture and tradition that has produced such magnificent singers as Margaret Barry, Freddy McKay, Oliver Mulligan and many many more, Maggie has much to live up to.  This she does in no uncertain manner with this album which is of exceptional quality.

This is Maggie's 3rd solo album and her 17th if you include collaborations and she is has reached a pinnacle in terms of performance. Allied to her beautiful voice is the interpretation of a mature singer with great respect for the tradition of which she is a standard bearer.

This album is a mix of carefully chosen traditional and contemporary songs some of them written by friends and one by son Joe Tilston. This latter is an amusing take on the old childrens song 'There's a Hole in the Bucket'. My favourite though from the contemporary songs is Mick Ryan's superb 'Christmas in No Man's Land'. Maggie's rendition is as poignant as it gets.

It's actually quite difficult for me to pick out particular songs from this album because the standard throughout is first class. But to mention a couple - the first song, Moorlough Mary, which I have never heard before, is accompanied by a lovely guitar solo from Paul Downes called The Streams of Bawden and this sets the reflective and melodic tone for the whole set. Maggie learnt two of the traditional songs 'Donal Og' and 'The Green Linnet' from Oliver Mulligan who of course is still a much loved and respected singer on the London folk scene. Maggie's treatment is delightful and these were highlights for me.

As if her lovely voice wasn't enough Maggie has also recruited a number of high quality musicians to accompany and add to this album. Great acoustic guitarist Paul Downes,  better known for his fine work with Mick Ryan, virtuoso guitarist and former partner Steve Tilston, Jon Boden and clarinettist Dave McKeown provide the ideal backdrop to Maggies fine singing.

As you've probably gathered I really rate this album and can recommend it to you.

Tykes News

Nigel Schofield

You wait ages for a Maggie Boyle and then two come along together. First Grace Notes' 20 and then this excellent solo album.

First of all, one should define �solo�: Maggie features on faultless vocals, sublime flute playing and, surprisingly, harmonium. She is joined on this occasion (for she is one who can always rally an impressive team of co-workers in the factory of melody) by Paul Downes, Jon Boden, Steve Tilston on arpeggione, reeds from Dave McKeown and the resonator guitar of Dave Wood, who adds a bluesy feel to many tracks.

Since this might seem a surprising statement to many of Maggie's admirer, let's start with one such bluesy track: Liza & Henry is a witty rewrite of There's A Hole In My Bucket: it sounds like the lost blues behind the singalong folk ditty. It is in fact, a new composition by Joe Tilston, Maggie's son. This is not the only family connection on the album � the sleeve is by her daughter,  and best of all, Betty Sue, a rare M. Boyle original, a tune �which came to me while dancing with my newborn grand-daughter�; it is framed by an air written by her aunt and a fling, dedicated to her father.

One of the delights of hearing Maggie sing � either in person or on disc � is the freshness which she brings to familiar, even hackneyed material. Some of the songs here will be very well-known to most of you � Steve Ashley's Once In A While, Donal Og, Linden Lea, The Spinning Wheel  and  The Green Linnet (performed acapella for a captivating five and a half minutes): Maggie brings them to life so that they are full of  the fresh surprise of the half remembered. Maggie's keen ear for a good song is shown by the less familiar material � Christmas In No Man's Land, Old Man's Retreat and the wonderful Dawning, which has new words by Frances Watt to a traditional eastern European tune. The last track is a potential classic -  Maggie may be the first to record it, but I am sure she will not be the last.

The album's title recalls a release by Peter Bellamy, who is represented on the disc by a moving version of his recording of The Trees They Do Grow High. The whole album is a fine achievement by a truly great singer.

Shire Folk

Jon Bennett

The first surprise is that this is only the third solo album from Maggie, despite the fact that she's contributed to no fewer than 14 CDs over many years with the likes of Steve Tilston and John Renbourn and is a firm and much respected fixture in the UK folk world. Reared in the London Irish community back in the 1960s, she's obviously steeped in both the Irish and British traditions. She performed most of the music used in the film Patriot Games and Legends of the Fall. I also remember her fine flute playing on Steve Tilston's Swans at Coole and, I believe, on some of the earlier John Renbourn offerings. Anyhow, here she is again in splendid voice, still with her flute as well as a harmonium humming in the background.

The album is a mix of traditional and contemporary songs. Some are familiar territory   Linden Lea, The Green Linnet, The Trees They Do Grow High   while others, especially the tunes, are a pleasant surprise. There's even a tune by a certain M.Boyle slipped inside a set of three. For the most part, the songs and tunes are played with only minimal accompaniment or none at all. I'm pleased to see Mick Ryan's Christmas in No Man's Land given a first airing. Here, as elsewhere on the recording, we hear the sensitive guitar playing of Paul Downes. It is followed by a lesser known traditional song, On Yonder Hill which features Dave McKeown playing a wind synth. This prompted me to look into what this instrument is   a fascinating surf through YouTube and beyond! She finishes with Linden Lea using the well know Vaughan Williams air, and a reminder of just how exquisite these 19th century lyrics by William Barnes are.

And so to the verdict: a definite thumbs up for this album, both for the choice of material and for the execution. And, perhaps above all, for the undiminished vocal talents of Maggie Boyle whose depth of experience is firmly stamped on all that she touches



Deep rooted, hearty folk song Boyle has recorded more than a dozen albums in collaboration with the likes of John Renbourn and Steve Tilston but averages only one solo album per decade since i987's Reaching Out. She draws regularly from Irish songs, many learnt from Oliver Mulligan of County Monaghan, who was part the London Irish community she grew up in. Contemporary sources include the unsung Steve Ashley's "Once In A While", where Boyle's divinely pure voice is enhanced by some exquisite clarinet. Elsewhere, Paul Downes' Planxty like guitar, Boyle's flute and the ubiquitous Jon Boden's fiddle combine to create the perfect setting for Boyle's criminally overlooked voice.


Dai Jeffries

Listening to a new album from Maggie Boyle is rather like dipping into a box of chocolates blindfolded to find another delight. To carry the simile slightly too far, Won't You Come Away is a bumper selection.

Maggie is supported in the main by Paul Downes with guest appearances by Jon Boden, Dave McKeown, Steve Tilston and Dave Wood, and the production, as usual with Doug Bailey, is unfussy and places the music at the forefront. It's Maggie's eclectic choice of material that is the real delight, however. Here are traditional songs, mostly Irish, with 'Donal Og' and 'The Green Linnet' standing out.

There are old favourites like 'Linden Lea' and Steve Ashley's 'Once In A While' and new songs like 'Liza & Henry', a modern take on 'There's A Hole In My Bucket' written by Maggie's son Joe. Most extraordinary is Nick Burbridge's 'Old Man's Retreat', a song of great bitterness and pain.

For me, there is one nougat in the chocolate box [I like nougat; I think you meant Turkish delight: confectionary Ed] and that is 'The Spinning Wheel'. The fact that Foster&Allen recorded it should be warning enough and it's a dreadful piece of Victorian sentimentality. Not enough to damn the whole album, though.



Deep rooted, hearty folk song Boyle has recorded more than a dozen albums in collaboration with the likes of John Renbourn and Steve Tilston but averages only one solo album per decade since i987's Reaching Out. She draws regularly from Irish songs, many learnt from Oliver Mulligan of County Monaghan, who was part the London Irish community she grew up in. Contemporary sources include the unsung Steve Ashley's "Once In A While", where Boyle's divinely pure voice is enhanced by some exquisite clarinet. Elsewhere, Paul Downes' Planxty like guitar, Boyle's flute and the ubiquitous Jon Boden's fiddle combine to create the perfect setting for Boyle's criminally overlooked voice.


David Kidman

Maggie is rightly acknowledged as one of this country's premier traditional singers, a song- carrier in the true sense who continues the tradition of music and story telling passed down through her London-Irish heritage. Although Maggie's been active on the scene for close on 40 years, and has contributed to many other artists' CDs in addition to collaborations with Steve Tilston and John Renbourn (and of course the wonderful Grace Notes), Won't  You Come Away is only her third solo album (following 1987's Reaching Out and 1998's Gweebarra).

And yet, considering that Maggie's is one of those voices that can reduce a room to silence with an unaccompanied song (as l've been privileged to witness at sessions hereabouts), it's sad that there's only one a cappella track on this disc - a spellbinding take on The Green Linnet. Having got that one disappointment out of the way, though, I should stress that Maggie's aptitude for engaging thoroughly intuitive supporting musicians is as noticeable as ever, and I wouldn't for one moment under play their contributions. The sensitive and highly responsive nature of the accompaniment is arguably nowhere better demonstrated than on The Trees They Do Grow High. Central to the texture is the unflinchingly expert guitar (/mandolin/mandocello) of Paul Downes, arrangements often further fleshed out by Maggie's own flute, whistle or harmonium and Jon Boden's fiddle, with (more occasionally) Dave Wood's resonator guitar, Steve Tilston's arpeggione and Dave McKeown's clarinets, melodica or wind synth.

As far as repertoire's concerned, there's a certain degree of irony in that, for all Maggie's reputation as an exceptional exponent of traditional song, several of the disc's highlights turn out to be her magical interpretations of some very special contemporary compositions. A crowning jewel is Frances Watt's Dawning, a joyous, ingeniously polska-skippery test of Maggie's proven vocal dexterity, whereas on Nick Burbridge's Old Man's Retreat, Maggie responds equally keenly to the song's unique combination of serious intensity and lyrical beauty. Other successes include Steve Ashley's Once In A  While and the delightful Liza &Henry (penned by Joe Tilston, Maggie's son) - for which she supplies her own gorgeous harmonies - and a fresh minted, simple new take on Linden Lea (which Maggie first recorded, in a more fussy arrangement, on her 1996 duo album with Steve,  All Under The Sun). There's also a spirited take on On Yonder Hill (from the singing of Geordie Hanna), and I don't think l've heard a more beguiling account of The Spinning Wheel - delicately lilting and authoritatively considered, with the abundant expressive sincerity which distinguishes Maggie's performances throughout this lovely disc.

Sussex Folk Diary

Vic Smith

Another album from the outstanding London Irish singer; this one shows her repertoire reflecting her Irish parentage and her English birth.

Growing up in a metropolitan community that thrived on all aspects of its Celtic heritage, it is not surprising that Maggie was influenced by the great Oliver Mulligan with �Donal �g�, �The Green Linnet� and �On Yonder� Hill all being learned from him. She includes some memorable modern songs from Steve Ashley, Mick Ryan, her son Joe and it is good to hear �Old Man's Retreat� from local songwriter Nick Burbridge included.

Maggie is well served by her accompanists here and Jon Boden's spare, sombre fiddle is really notable but most praise should be saved for the contribution of Paul Downes. As well as being Maggie's touring partner, Paul is present on every track except one - her remarkable take on �The Green Linnet - on mandocello and (mainly) guitar and he shows great skill and sensitivity throughout. Surely, there was a case for the album being under their joint names?

The Living Tradition

Clive Pownceby

It's odd to think that this is only Maggie Boyle's third solo album in almost 25 years, as she's been making music for most of her life, having been brought up in the energetic and colourful '60s London Irish community, where learning songs and music from her father Paddy whose roots were in Donegal, was you'd imagine, a way of life.

This album comes across as a labour of love for not only does Maggie credit her Dad as mentor, she gives due acknowledgment to Oliver Mulligan, another respected singer and a regular at the now demolished 'Favourite' in Holloway, originally from Co. Monaghan   and singing still! Her collaborations with many and assorted singers and projects over the years have overshadowed her singular talents so it's good to have this recording running around on its own two feet and a delightful listening experience it proves. Sounding utterly in her element, Boyle is on excellent form throughout, from the opening, lyrical Moorlough Mary to the elegiac Linden Lea which takes us out 12 tracks later.

An affection and respect for both songs and sources infuses the whole proceedings this is purposeful music with lovingly chosen ingredients, not flavourless additives that some might throw into the pot. Spiced by variously, Jon Boden, Paul Downes and Steve Tilston to name but three, the mix is marinated in Doug Bailey's empathic production.

Though regarded primarily as a singer of traditional material, Maggie can essay a spare, wistful Once In A While written by the consummate Steve Ashley, and by way of contrast Delia Murphy's timeless Spinning Wheel with an easy grace.

If you seek elegant, reflective yet compelling listening, congratulations   you arrived at the appropriate review!


Vic Smith

There are three elements among the songs that Maggie presents here. Her London Irish background is reflected in style and repertoire: the great Oliver Mulligan is quoted as a great influence. Then there are English traditional songs from her contact with the folk revival, and modern songs showing the influence of the tradition. She has that important knack of choosing really fine songs and, more importantly, songs that demonstrate the excellence of her singing voice.

Outstanding is her commanding interpretation of the difficult Irish Napoleonic 'The Green Linnet', the only unaccompanied song. This is not to say that the singing elsewhere is not delightful nor that she is not well served by her accompanists, for she is.  Jon Boden provides some sombre fiddle and the renowned and versatile multireviews instrumentalist, Dave McKeown, enhances with his contribution. However, it is Paul Downes, Maggie's current touring partner, present on every accompanied item, who deserves the most praise for the sensitivity of his guitar, mandolin and mandocello accompaniments.

Of the Irish songs, two more coming through Oliver, 'Donal �g' and 'On Yonder Hill' are both well arranged to enhance lovely singing. Turning to the English songs, it is not surprising to hear 'Linden Lea' which has always been prominent in her live performances while the solemnity of the voice and accompaniment on 'The Trees They Do Grow High' suits it well. All five modern songs show great merit; she finds great emotional depth in the way she sings Steve Ashley's 'Once In a While' and it is good to see other singers taking up Nick Burbridge's wellstructured songs: 'Old Man's Retreat' is the one that is heard here. A final mention is reserved for 'Liza and Henry', written by Maggie's son, Joe; hardly surprising that he can turn out a good song with talented songwriters on both sides of his family.


Roy Harris

THE CALM and lovely voice of Maggie Boyle has enchanted the folk scene for several years and, on the evidence of this CD, the future holds more of the same. Her voice is tuneful and her diction a model; every word as clear as crystal, setting the mood with her opener, a lovely Moorlough Mary from the excellent Des O'Halloran, she does 12 more songs, mostly Irish. One exception is the brisk polka Dawning, written by Frances Watt.

Paul Downes, Dave Mckeown, Jon Boden, Steve Tilston and Dave Wood add good instrumental support on several tracks. Wood's resonator guitar proves surprisingly effective on The Trees They Do Go High and the Delia Murphy favourite The Spinning Wheel. Boyle also plays flute, whistle and harmonium. A pleasing album demonstrating the singer's depth of talent.


Joan Crump

Perhaps best known in recent years as part of the female vocal harmony trio Grace Notes, Maggie doesn't seem to get as many opportunities these days to showcase her considerable solo talents. Happily, Won't You Come Away gives her a superb platform for exploring a range of enchanting songs.

Maggie delves into her Irish heritage with classic songs like The Spinning Wheel, Donal Og and Moorlough Mary. Her vocal style is well suited to the Irish material, with breaks and ornamentation that seem influenced by previous generations of source singers without being so pronounced as to distract from the loveliness of the songs. She also handles very capably some classic English songs such as the ineffably beautiful Linden Lea, and even has a bit of a bluesy rock-out on her son Joe's Liza and Henry.

Vocally the album is very self assured with a stylistic strength and depth which may have influenced some of the current generation of young female singers who eschew breathy prettiness for passion. Accompaniment is stellar, with the likes of John Boden, Steve Tilston and Paul Downes lending classy arrangements.


Mary Humphreys

This CD was recorded by the performers in several locations, primarily at WildGoose Studios, and cleverly stitched together to make one of the most beautiful and intricate recordings I have heard in a long time.

Maggie Boyle ( singer and flautist) has been a regular visitor to folk clubs in East Anglia and will be known to many of our readers. Paul Downes is well known for his collaborations with some of the greatest singers and performers including Mick Ryan ( a song by him is track 11). Jon Boden on fiddle is one of the movers and shakers of the folk world. Steve Tilston, is here playing an arpeggione (a fretted cello-like instrument), Dave Wood accompanies on resonator guitar and Dave McKeown on woodwind plus melodica & wind synth.

There are several tracks of traditional songs , not surprisingly considering Maggie's introduction to singing from the illustrious Oliver Mulligan. Donal Og and the Green Linnet are directly from Oliver and indirectly On Yonder Hill from the singing of Geordie Hanna. Maggie's delicate and intelligent vocal decoration enhances the ballads, pointing their tragic and monumental structure. Just listen to the Green Linnet to hear how such a majestic ballad should be sung. It is no wonder these songs have lasted for generations.

Many of the other tracks have friend and family connections - The Lament for John Doherty, part of the sole purely instrumental track was written by Maggie's aunt Margaret McGinley,the second tune is Maggie's own composition and the third written for her father, Paddy by Charlie Lennon. Her son Joe's song Liza & Henry is a modern and inventive take on the Hole in my Bucket.

Of all the non-traditional tracks my favourite is Linden Lea (music by R Vaughan Williams) which I have heard murdered all too frequently by so-called �trained� singers. I am sure that RVW would have loved this version sung by Maggie's sweet voice in such a relaxed and natural style.

Maggie shows, in this album, that she is equally at home with recently written songs and tunes as she is a pre-eminent exponent of traditional song. It is refreshing that she is not averse to accompaniment for such stately songs as Donal Og and Moorlough Mary. With such musicians as collaborators Maggie could hardly go wrong, except in the minds of the most dedicated purists.

If I didn't have this CD already I would go out and buy it!

Bright Young Folk Live Review

Derek Gifford

I've known for some time both Paul Downes, mainly through his work with Mick Ryan, and Maggie Boyle, through her work with Grace Notes, but it wasn't until we shared a concert at Whitby Folk Week last year that I saw them for the first time as a duo. They were very impressive together so noticing that they were on at the Bothy Folk Club in Southport I took the opportunity to go and enjoy their music once more.

I suppose the date of performance is significant given Maggie's Irish ancestry but, thankfully, they made a point of not doing an Irish night although, of course, a number of lovely Irish songs were featured.

The careful mix of songs and tunes and the inventive arrangements made for two interesting sets which illustrated their great skills vocally and instrumentally. They included many seldom heard but interesting songs too. Singable choruses helped to engage the audience throughout as well.

Maggie's background knowledge of the songs, a feature often sadly ignored by many artistes, added to the enjoyment of them. Also the occasional solo by each of them added to the variety. Maggie's voice to me is different from but very reminiscent of the great Frankie Armstrong.

Paul sang a super American song called 'Boatman's Cure' written by Georgie Ward which was especially memorable. Joe Tilston's (Maggie's son) song based on 'Hole in My Bucket' called 'Lisa & Henry' was very entertaining but an outstanding anti-conflict/war song by Nick Burbridge called 'Old Man's Retreat' was a very different matter. The  imaginative writing in this song was stunning and beautifully sung by Maggie.

'Linden Lea' is one of my favourite songs and is brilliantly performed by these two so I was glad they included it in their repertoire. It also provided an English antidote to all the Irish material.

Paul's musicianship (even when he played banjo!) and sharp humour and Maggie's fine singing and flute playing made for a great night illustrating their polished professionalism.

Their encore song 'Camden Town' (Maggie was born in London) written by her elder brother and was good song to finish on with another singable chorus.

It was a real treat to see them both again in a club setting so, if they are appearing in your locality, I can highly recommend that you go and see them.