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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Susan McKeown

By Paula Kirman
Published March 13, 2007

Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs
World Village 468054

IRELAND

Dublin’s Susan McKeown is no ordinary Celtic singer. Her lilting vocals, whether in Gaelic or English, are full of personality. Blackthorn, her ninth and latest album, is comprised of Irish love songs that are tender and powerful. McKeown makes each song sound personal and sensual. A world traveler, she used an international ensemble of musicians who add a universal feel to the album, even though most of the songs are presented in Gaelic. And so it should be—love is a universal experience, yet personal at the same time. The songs deal with falling in love, pursuing love, betrayal and other themes on the darker side of the emotion. While the arrangements are solid and melodic, McKeown’s voice is the centerpiece of her music. With a background in jazz and rock, as well as traditional Irish music, she adds a contemporary flair to these songs without abandoning their roots.