Janice and I were getting into a lift in a Belfast hotel when we turned to see Kieran Goss and a woman about to join us. In the few floors together they were warm, friendly and full of personality. It was a lovely encounter.
The last Kieran Goss album I had bought was Blue Sky Sunrise and so on getting home I checked out any new releases. Well, who would have believed it. Kieran had just released a new record, a collaboration with his wife, Annie Kinsella, the woman in the lift. Sorry Annie, I didn't realise!
I started listening to Oh, The Starlings and was immediately drawn in.
Surprising to me, the woman in the lift, was doing the vocal heavy lifting with Kieran playing a more supporting role on most tracks. Annie Kinsella is good. A pure voice, evocative, with an Irish tinge. The west of Ireland betrays her on WB Yeats' The Song Of Wandering Aengus and she could even be a gentle Mary Coughlan on Into Your Arms.
The songs. What struck me, as I glanced across the credits, was the strength of songwriting power around Newry, County Down. Brendan Murphy, from the 4 of Us, is a co write on 4 of the songs and Colum Sands, from just down the road in Rostrevor, features too, on maybe the highlight track for me Michael's Orchard.
Not that I could describe any of these songs as fillers. This is the strongest of collections. The yearning love song Hymn To Love blends in the spiritual like Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately, Hollywood Boulevard, a long way from Sugar Island, is insightful social comment and Rodney Crowell's Jewel Of The South is poetically at the top of the class. All said, Goss and Kinsella's title track is breathtaking in the sweetness of its simplicity.
In the end the record was exactly like those few moments in the hotel lift. Here were eleven songs that were warm, friendly and full of personality; a lovely encounter. Eleven finely honed and arranged songs, with the sparsest of accompaniment and all the more beautiful for that!
(side note: I also casually bumped into Brendan Murphy on a Dublin London flight the very week in March 1993 that She Hits Me was in the Uk Top 40. We travelled into London on the Underground and I got a lovely guest list for their show that night at the Subterranean!)