Mick Moloney's McNally's Row of Flats is a fun, quirky recording, a time warp that takes the listener back to another time and place. As a jumping-off place to the late-19th century, Moloney tackled the oeuvre of Ed Harrigan and David Braham, a team who wrote songs that were performed in minstrel shows and vaudeville in the 1870s and beyond. While neither Harrigan or Braham have the name recognition of Stephen Foster today, both were a big deal in their own time, making a financial killing and eventually writing for lavish theatrical productions. The songs included on McNally's Row of Flats, as the liner notes point out, paint a nice portrait of the immigrant experience in America, and they're so tuneful that it's easy to imagine having a few pints and singing them in the local Irish tavern. Moloney's conversational vocals and the lively arrangements enhance oddities like "Such an Education Has My Mary Ann" and "Get Up Jack John Sit Down." Whistle, fiddle, and button accordion provide a Celtic-styled background, while Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks add animated brass to a number of songs. Although the structure of these songs reminds one more of show tunes than folk, Moloney and friends bring an air of faithfulness to these interpretations that evokes an earlier era. For everyone who thought that Stephen Foster was the only person writing for the stage in the 19th century, Moloney's take on Harrigan and Braham's extroverted songs will be a real treat.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.