Fresh from a hagiographic profile on RTÉ, Christy Moore is back with his first collection of new material in three years. Stepping between originals and reworkings of older tunes, the album is classic Moore, combining typically salty vocals with bustling arrangements from producer Declan Sinnott.
Throughout the singer flits between his trademark emotional notes of foggy sentimentality and firebrand anger, occasionally swerving from one to the other over the space of a single song or couplet.
The title track finds the Newbridge bard at his most autobiographical as he reminisces about his childhood amidst the flatlands of Kildare and the ways in which it continues to shape him as person and artist.
A stormy take on of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Wallflower’ is, meanwhile, a reminder of Moore’s protest singer credentials as he laments the mistreatment of political prisoners in ’80s Britain. That familiar righteousness is ratcheted further with his earnest tilt at ‘Oblivious’, a state of the nation contemplation of Irish society written by Mick Blake (not surprisingly, Moore’s message is that we have failed to live up to the aspirations of 1916).
Yet Lily generally avoids hectoring and Moore is audibly at home in his more cuddly identity of everyman balladeer. New single ‘The Tuam Beat’ evokes the freewheeling spirit of Lisdoonvarna, blending flinty observations and shaggy humour.
Elsewhere, there are spry covers of John Spillane (‘Ballad of Patrick Murphy’) and Declan O’Rourke (‘Lightning Bird Wind River Man’) plus a spoken-word reprisal of Dave Lordan poem ‘Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains’ (presumably not a reference to the Bray Wanderers back four). Fans will lap it up and the record will double as useful primer as Moore prepares for a busy summer of touring.