The album kicks off with one of many new Furey compositions, Once When I Was Young, a decent opener. But for this reviewer the album really gets going with track two – an excellent banjo-driven cover of Donovan’s Colours. And things only get better with track three, a fine new song called Walking With My Love, a devilishly catchy tune with nice banjo picking and pipes.
So, a good point then perhaps to talk about the instrumentation and sound of the album. Full kudos are due to Bill Shanley who has done an excellent job as producer. The album is engineered almost with the dynamics of a rock album, vocals nicely on top of well defined instruments, central to which is the banjo. Finbar’s famous pipe-playing appears on quite a few songs, but the emphasis seems to be on song rather than virtuosity throughout.
Finbar has obviously had a fertile writing period, another good one cropping up with Whiskey Come To Me On Sunday. All of the new songs really do sound like great traditional ballads we’ve somehow overlooked – and the examples just keep coming, Rivers of Steel, After Sunday Mass, and The Ballad for George Best (written for his father), which may be the best song on the album. Getting more coverage (due to a TV show) is the album’s lead single The Last Great Love Song, which has echoes of some of the Fureys big hits in the past. There are also high profile duets with Shayne Ward and Mary Black. So, lots of variety.
Another strong track is Finbar’s new arrangement of a traditional song called Dan O’Hara, which has the perfect metre and flow we expect with the best of these old Irish songs. Also, that one and the likes of Waltzing Matilda sit in nicely with the cover songs on the album. Most of the covers work very well, for example, a successful mid-tempo version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, which closes out the album nicely as the uilleann pipes come in over the final verse and chorus. A lovely album.