Album review: BLACKBIRD & CROW – Ailm


M.I.G. Music [Release date 24.01.20]

Blackbird & Crow are the duo of Maighread Ní Ghrásta and Stephen Doohan, who released their debut album ‘Shock Shatter Convince’ in 2017.

Maighread wrote the majority of the lyrics which cover themes of abuse, depression, addiction and more, to which Stephen adds his notable skills on guitar and other stringed instruments. Tommy McLaughlin (Atlan) produced the album with Brian Masterson (The Chieftains, Elvis Costello) also lending his experience and talents to the crisp, clear production. That clear sound is one of the pluses for the album as you can hear the vocals and instruments clearly without either taking anything away from the other.

The opening trio of the blues stomp on ‘Harlot On Holy Hill’, ‘The Witch That Could Not Be Burned’ and ‘Princess Of The Ditch’ give you a good idea of the rest of the album, namely the emotive vocals of Maighread backed by the precise, soulful playing of Stephen.

‘Margaret The Martyr’ follows the acoustic folk route, a tale of a wife who keeps a household running despite the misery it causes her with her husband away & having affairs and children having left home, leaving her all alone.

The vocal on ‘A Pox On You’ has to be heard, just for the emotion and brooding menace in the performance. With ‘Sweet Surrender’ you have a song that has wide appeal with its instant chorus and soulful sax solo. Dead Can Dance came to mind on ‘Mor Rioghain’, with a stirring drumbeat and more wonderful guitar.

Blackbird & Crow have prouduced a mighty powerful listen from start to finish. One that leaves you thinking long after the last note has played. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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