Mary Black

The Best of Mary Black, Vol. 2

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Mighty strange, but the Best of Mary Black, Vol. 2 is extremely similar to the import version of the Best of Mary Black, 1991-2000. The second discs of each are, in fact, identical, and include an album that was never released called "Hidden Harvest." Black is Ireland's premier vocalist. She interprets the tradition in many different ways without ever losing it in the arrangements. Her take on pop songs is to render them through the eyes and ears of the great Celtic folk tradition as well. There are, as would be expected, many fine moments on this set, including her readings of Dougie MacLean's "Turning Away," Thom Moore's "Still Believing," Phil Colclough's "Song for Ireland," and Noel Brazil's "The Loving Time." The second disc features some beautiful duet performances, including a duet with Joan Baez -- live, no less -- on Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells," "Sonny" with Dolores Keane and Emmylou Harris, and "Bruach Na Carraige Baine," with Seamus Begley. Some other moments here on disc two are beautiful performances of John Lennon's "Across the Universe" (with Noel Bridgeman), the traditional "Ae Fond Kiss," and Mick Hanly's "Without the Fanfare." Purists will call this music "sellout," but then, they never got it anyway. Black is a singer first, a singer of songs, and a terrific interpreter because of her unique manner of placing them in the context of the folk tradition. She is an Irish singer second, and whether it's pop, traditional music, jazz or rock she takes on, the mark on the material is unmistakably her own.

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