Hermione Hennessy

Songs My Father Taught Me

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Responsible for managing his career, including his rather belated early-'90s breakthrough, the late Irish folk troubadour Christie Hennessy's daughter, Hermione, steps out from behind the scenes to pay tribute to her much-loved dad on her debut solo record, Songs My Father Taught Me. Previously a backing singer on his records, the classically trained pianist finally decided to take center stage following the wishes of her father, who drew up a list of songs he thought would be compatible with her lilting Joni Mitchell-esque tones, before his death in 2007. Produced by brother Tim with sister Amber on violin, the family affair suggests that the pair could have reversed their roles with considerable ease, as Hermione's enchanting vocals glide their way through perfectly suited faithful covers of Aimee Mann's Magnolia finale, "Wise Up," Carole King's "Way Over Yonder," and Iris DeMent's "When Love Was Young," alongside a driving rendition of Crowded House's "Fall at Your Feet," a bluesy take on Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers' gospel classic "Let Me Go Home," and a jazz-tinged interpretation of the popular hymn "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace." The somber piano chords, twinkling melodies, and subtle strings of the gentle, self-penned ballad "The Edge of the Moon," suggests Hermione can add accomplished songwriter to her list of talents, but it's the three tracks plucked from Christie's back catalog, "Oh Jealous Heart" (from 1992's The Rehearsal), "Late at Night" (1996's Box), and "Soho Square" (2006's Stories for Sale), the latter of which features his unmistakable, timeless delivery on a heartfelt duet which understandably provides the most emotion. In other hands, Songs My Father Taught Me could have drowned in a sea of schmaltz, but thanks to its subtle arrangements and carefully selected songs, it's a fitting tribute to a sorely missed singer/songwriter.

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