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Jill Hill of Mardles

reviews The Navvy's Wife by The Navvy's Wife Cast

This double CD of Mick Ryan's musical drama, like most soundtracks, will best be appreciated by those who have seen the show. However, the brilliance of Mick's writing, his wonderful voice and the musicianship of Paul Downes, Roger Watson and Jackie Oates combine with the rest of the current cast to produce a very enjoyable listen.

Preceded by an overture of The Land Around Us, the opening track is the upbeat Men of Limerick to the tune of I'll Tell Me Ma. This is followed by one of the two tracks that I didn't like (there are thirty?nine in all so that's not bad going.) I'm not a fan of rose tinted views of the past and The Women's Song appears to be just that. Fortunately as the story progressed the balance was restored, most notably by track 14 Women Not Their Wives Sung by Jackie Oates, Judy Dunlop and Heather Bradford, it tells of the attitude of society to 'camp followers', increasing the hardship of these women who already cope with impossibly difficult lives. Almost to the end of Act 1, my desert island disc appears. Farewell sung in rich full tones by Judy Dunlop almost had me in tears. The closing track on the first CD is my other dislike, The pseudo music hall song So May Ways To Die, although it probably works well on stage.

The second CD is shorter and opens with another favourite, the beautiful and haunting Poppies sung by Mick and Judy. By track 6, just Like You, sung by Roger Watson, the songs are summing up an essentially lonely way of life in a very poignant but not maudlin manner . The second act closes with The Land Around You.
Several of the tracks are prose or spoken verse and remind you that you are listening to piece of theatre.

This CD has made me want to see the show; give it a listen and I think you will as well.