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Nick Passmore of Taplas

reviews Grand Conversation by Mick Ryan & Paul Downes

NOT only is Mick Ryan one of our finest traditional singers, but he’s also a gifted songwriter. Both these talents are very evident on this new CD, in which he joins forces with the superb guitarist Paul Downes.
The result is a very fine album indeed, with a well-judged balance of material, from hardhitting songs like Ryan’s Reprisals (about the Irish rebellion of 1798) and The Lark Above The Downs (about the execution of a WW I conscientious objector for “cowardice”), through traditional ballads like The Banks of the Bann and The Grand Conversation on Napoleon, which gives the album its title, to the delightful and amusing The Lazy Man, another original.

One particular highlight is The Light, a song about Geevor tin mine in Cornwall, which Mick unwittingly set to an “original” tune that turned out to be Joni Mitchell’s Song To A Seagull!

Ryan has never sounded in better voice and never sounded better than when paired with Paul Downes’ sensitive accompaniment.