With her solo debut album, Mary Black established the pattern that would hold true for most of her recording career: a program of songs both old and new, some of them truly traditional and some only sounding that way, and one or two modern pop clunkers. In the traditional category is her gorgeous rendition of "Rose of Allendale," which was a significant hit for her in Ireland and which is marred by the thoroughly superfluous presence of a steel guitar, and a spectacularly heartbreaking rendition of "Anachie Gordon," which is marred by nothing at all. For modern folk material there is a wonderful Mick Hanly song called "Crusader." And for misbegotten pop clunkers there is a completely embarrassing cover of John Sebastian's "Lovin' You," which seems designed mainly as an opportunity for producer Declan Sinnott to show off his considerable guitar chops, and a spare arrangement of Karla Bonoff's "Home." In the surprisingly successful category is Black's tender and gentle take on "God Bless the Child." Mary Black is not a perfect album by any means, but it's an auspicious debut overall. ~ Rick Anderson, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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