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Brian Cope of Folk London

reviews Maid on the Shore by Niamh Boadle

Destined to join the rapidly expanding body of successful graduates from Newcastle University, Niamh has yet to complete her course, which she is not due to finish until next year. With several accolades already under her belt, 2 CDs and support from numerous veterans on the folk scene, doubtless she will succeed.

Maid On The Shore, her second CD, presents an interesting and diverse selection of material including the contemporary of which Niamh has written half, six traditional songs and one tune. The tune /ce On The Water, an American waltz, showcases her skill as a sensitive fiddle player while Niamh's multi instrumental talents are used successfully on accompanied tracks, where she plays all instruments with the exception of piano and oboe, which are contributed by Paul Sartin. A few bars into the CD and one is left in little doubt that Niamh is an accomplished guitar player and songsmith. Her self penned Forget Me Not which opens, is a powerful recounting of a late 19th century newspaper report from the Preston Chronicle of the tragic variety. As a song it sits well alongside those of more established writers such as Anthony John Clarke's poignant The Only Life Gloria Knows and a striking rendition of Kate Fagan's Roll You Sweet Rain, both of which Niamh makes her own. Red Dust Road another Niamh composition has wormed its way in to my subconscious and become a stand out track. Cleverly crafted lyrics turn a road trip around New South Wales with her sister, into a thoughtful reflection on injustices meted out to the Aboriginal population. Combined with skilful musical arrangement, engaging harmonies and a frustratingly catchy chorus she makes a point without appearing to preach.

Her Anglo/Irish heritage is apparent throughout, her voice reflecting the lilt and decoration characteristic of many traditional Irish singers, most notably on the three unaccompanied tracks which include versions of the traditional Dark Inishowen and Thomas Davis' song of Irish resistance The Flower of Finae. A varied and interesting CD, with a hint of maybe even better to come.