Sharon Shannon

Galway Girl: The Best of Sharon Shannon

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She's not the "Galway Girl" in question -- she's a Clare native -- but the renowned multi-instrumentalist has achieved something of a renaissance in recent years, enjoying the success of the eponymous collaboration with American roots legend Steve Earle. Represented twice here, opening with Earle's original and concluding with the 2007 chart-topping revamp with Irish rocker Mundy, "The Galway Girl" became an unexpected hit in 2007, while the original appeared prominently on the soundtrack to P.S. I Love You and in a very ubiquitous ad campaign. It's also a neat reference point for the collection, which thoroughly showcases Shannon's adventurous collaborations with musicians as diverse as the above, California country rocker Jackson Browne, Malawian rapper Marvel, and hip hop-influenced folk songwriter Damien Dempsey. There are her live collaborations with the supergroup Renegade, the self-composed reel "Gaffo's Ball" slotting in neatly beside the funk-soaked "Neckbelly." Dempsey and Mundy join old-school trad singer Dessie O'Halloran on the mischievous "Courtin' in the Kitchen," a number quite literally recorded in Shannon's kitchen for a radio special, blending styles as the funk horns and accordion bursts seamlessly trade places. "What You Make It (Da da da Da)" is the surprise package of the collection as accordion, plucked banjo, and mandolin subtly pull the strings behind the relatively straightforward R&B/hip-hop number. A couple of songs might have been wisely cut -- "A Song of the Rosy Cross" with the Waterboys' Mike Scott and "Libertango" with tragic singer Kirsty MacColl drain the momentum slightly towards the finish -- but overall The Galway Girl is a comprehensive introduction to Shannon's considerable body of music.

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