I was lucky enough to be able to attend another GLAS concert in Geneva last week. This time Denis McClean moved heaven and earth to bring Maria Doyle Kennedy to town for what was another memorable night in the Aula at the Collège des Coudriers. There’s something about the setting that seems to bring the best out of the artists that I’ve seen there. It’s quite intimate and the audience tend to make the artists feel welcome.
Maria was accompanied, as usual these days, by her husband Kieran Kennedy. He’s a wonderful guitarist who really can make an acoustic guitar sing, using the full range of sounds and rhythms available. I felt that on one or two songs he used a little too much of the effects pedal when it wasn’t really needed – the songs and his playing could easily carry the day. But it’s a just a small quibble.
MDK has a really great voice. Anyone who heard her sing in The Commitments will have known that already. These days she’s more like a contemporary folk singer, with bits of country creeping in around the edges. Her strong, warm and sometimes husky voice fits equally well with the original songs written by her and her husband, as with the old Appalachian bawdy folk songs she drops in here and there.
I had heard none of the songs before – but I heard many that I liked. The one that sticks in my mind now six days later was a humorous song she wrote for Kieran where she rejects a number of famous hunks in favour of her “baby”. She also sang in Irish now and then… there was a Siúil a Rún close to the end that was almost spine-tingling.
She chatted with the audience between the songs, invited us to sing along here and there to great effect, and I hear the night ended with a bit of a session down at Charly O’Neill’s that I was sorry to miss.
Here’s a song that’s on her latest album, Sing.