Maid On The Shore, Niamh Boadle’s second CD album release, following after 2010’s Wild Rose, is further proof that she’s very much an artist to watch. A Lancashire lass whose strong familial and formative influences are nonetheless immediately identifiable as Irish, she blends traditional material, modern songs and original compositions with ease and flair.
She’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing whistles and bodhran, the latter used most effectively to accompany an otherwise a capella Creggan White Hare. Elsewhere her guitar playing ranges from the delicate and subtle The Only Life Gloria Knows, to the lively, rolling jazzy riffs of Bill’s Missed The Last Boat Back.
Ice On The Water, the only fully instrumental song here, also showcases some fine emotional and sensitive fiddle playing. Although mostly providing her own accompaniment (either live or overdubbed), she is also more than ably supported by the piano and oboe talents of Paul Sartin (Bellowhead).
Three of the traditional Irish songs - Dark Inishowen, The Flower Of Finae, The Boys Of Mullaghbawn - are performed a capella, which gives Niamh’s voice a chance to shine and illustrate her strong grasp of the narrative tale, while maintaining the rhythmic integrity of the song. Her voice has a lilting quality, ideally suited to these songs and her diction is impeccable: clear and precise. While she often sings quite high in her register, her cover of Roll You Sweet Rain, pitched rather lower, is particularly effective.
There are three original compositions on the album. Forget-Me-Not, the opening song, slots in so neatly with the traditional songs that it might easily be taken for a reworking of an ancient ballad. It’s a tragic story of ill-fated love, based on an old newspaper article. Bill’s Missed The Last Boat Back is jazzier in feeling, written for her grandad and based on his wartime anecdotes. Red Dust Road, inspired by an Australian road trip, manages to encompass both wide open spaces and aboriginal oppression. All these self-penned songs display a maturity in the writing that promises much for the future.Su O’Brien
Released on 27 April 2015 on Wild Goose.
2. Dark Inishowen
3. Green Bushes
4. The Only Life Gloria Knows
5. Ice On The Water
6. The Flower Of Finae
7. I’m A Fading Day By Day
8. Roll You Sweet Rain
9. Creggan White Hare
10. Bill’s Missed The Last Boat Back
11. The Boys Of Mullaghbawn
12. Red Dust Road
13. Maid On The Shore