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Mary Black - Full Tide 2006 torrent
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Full Tide was released on the other side of the pond in 2005, and probably the true core of Mary Black fans picked this up already. Better late than never, and as Curb Records virtually whispered this out, it's a wonder that listeners get to hear it at all, so they should be grateful. As an album, Full Tide most closely resembles Shine in its breadth and depth. Yeah, that is a good thing. It's not the shiny production as much as the material itself. Recorded in Ireland and Australia, the album contains some stellar, perhaps career-defining performances of a number of tunes: her readings of Bob Dylan's "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" and "To Make You Feel My Love" completely reinvent them. The former is an anthem as Celtic and full of old-world notions of travel and dislocation and community as one could imagine. The emotion in her voice is a warm fire for the battered soul to rest in. On the latter, Black offers a vulnerable and utterly sincere paean of amorous truth to the Beloved, whether or not the desired one has chosen the protagonist or another. Dylan's was a boast in some way; Black's is not a plea, but an understated declaration of desire and commitment that transcends time and space. As moving and convincing as these performances are, they are not the true gems in the body of this album. In fact, her version of Sandy Denny's "Full Moon," with a pianist, a bassist, and a string quartet, blows them away. Her voice, full and dark, yearns across time and space for the absent one. It's an elegy to a love, but also to love itself and friendship as well. This is key in that there are a total of four songs here by the late Noel Brazil — Black's longtime collaborator and favorite songwriter — who passed away in 2001.
The shimmering opener, "The Land of Love," is where Irish pop combines with traditional Celtic fare and country music of the modern variety (this would be right at home as a single on CMT or GAC if a video were released). The hook, the gentle rock of the guitars beginning on the second verse, a whining pedal steel, and Black's voice seeing into the wonder of this longed-for place that is finally visible all combine to become something breathtaking. Likewise, the soft brokenness in "The Real You" carries the visual into the realms of a yearning so deep that it will accept the beloved without reservation. On this jazzy pop tune, the piano and layered strummed acoustic guitars carry a skeleton for the singer to flesh out. The pedal steel paints flourishing details, and suddenly the desired one is present. One can hear Eddi Reader singing this song, but somehow Black's experience underscores the subtleties in the lyric. There is a bonus track on this set called "Japanese Deluxe," another Brazil number, and once more scenery, the passage of time, and the wish of the protagonist to hold onto even one more moment with the object of love wind with memory in beautifully ornate piano lines and shuffling, brushed snare drums, painting Black's voice with the color of memory — impure, imperfect, but so sweet that desire becomes the sum total of present and past. In other words, Black has come up with another winner. It holds only one traditional song in its contents, but that hardly matters; in the grain of her voice these songs become traditional, from the legacy of life in the process of being lived and communicated via — to paraphrase Leonard Cohen — the "tower of song." From beginning to end, Full Tide is utterly beautiful and moving. And Noel: rest easy friend, and thank you for everything.
Full Tide is Mary's first full studio album since 1999's Speaking With The Angel. This uncharacteristically long break from the recording studio had long-term fans of Mary worrying that she had nothing left to say and was perhaps losing interest in making music. Full Tide is a strong statement to counter any such fears, and is a timely reminder that Mary is still one of the finest voices to come out of Ireland.
The late Noel Brazil has written many of the most popular and enduring songs from Mary's back catalogue, and it is a fitting tribute that Mary has chosen to include four of his songs on this album. The enchanting combination of Mary's voice and Noel Brazil's songs has always been a fruitful partnership and this success remains evident on Full Tide. Two Brazil tracks act as bookends to the album, which opens with a lively "The Land Of Love" and closes with the stirring "Japanese Deluxe." The title of the album is derived from another Noel Brazil composition, "The Real You."
For the first time in her career, Mary has included two tracks on which she shares co-writing credits with her son Danny O'Reilly, who is proving to be a burgeoning young songwriting talent himself. I'll admit to being wary of this new departure, not least because Mary has always insisted she is an interpreter of other's songs and has previously claimed to have little interest in crafting her own material. However, these two tracks -- the emotion-wrought "Your Love" and the up-tempo "Stand Up" -- provide the strongest tracks on the album. It remains to see whether this marks the start of a new chapter in Mary's career, but the quality of these tracks suggest that this new direction could be extremely rewarding.
Full Tide also includes the sumptuous Sandy Denny cover "Full Moon." Mary makes no secret of the fact that Sandy has been a big influence on her own career, but is never lazy in her choice of Sandy's songs. "Full Moon" was recorded during the sessions for Sandy's final solo album, Rendezvous, but never made it to the final album, surfacing some years later on various anthologies and more recently as a bonus track on the 2005 reissue of the original 1978 release.
Bob Dylan also receives cover treatment from Mary on the majestic "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" -- from Dylan's 1985 release, Biograph, which Mary and the band start with a stunning a cappella chorus. The second Dylan cover is "To Make You Feel My Love," to which Mary applies her trademark tenderness and clarity.
For folk aficionados there is the traditional track "Siul A Run," which Mary sings in both English and her native Gaelic. Mary's voice sounds like it has come home on tracks like this, and I long for the day when Mary might record an entire album of traditional folk songs. I imagine I am not alone in this desire!
The uplifting "St. Kilda Again" is likely to prove a crowd pleaser at Mary's live performances and contains some delicious harmony vocals from Mary's daughter, Róisín.
Full Tide contains all the ingredients that have contributed to many great Mary Black recordings in the past: outstanding choice of material, sympathetic arrangements and Mary's effortless vocal style. It may be a cliché, but Full Tide marks a tremendous return to form for this much-loved and critically acclaimed artist
- The Green Review
Artist: Mary Black
Album: Full Tide
Date Of Release: 2005
Genre: Contemporary Folk, Folk Pop, Celtic
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset extreme