I think at 28 minutes, Thar Toinn is actually an extended EP rather than an album, but that’s just semantics. Although the unusual playing time does in my mind correlate with the somewhat laid back feeling of the music.
I have very much enjoyed her outings from recent years, An Uair Bhig An Lae (2012) and Foxglove & Fuchsia (2017). They feature a strong artist in full power and selections of tunes that guarantee a rich musical experience. This new one, however, I’d describe more as pleasant rather that exciting. Muireann’s singing sounds less intense and the overall mood is pretty but also a bit muted, perhaps. As if these recordings were done in the warm, relaxed afterglow of a gig well played.
And nothing wrong with that, Lordy no, but I was perhaps perhaps expecting just a wee bit more. As her singing is usually focused and captivating, she sounds here a bit – I don’t know, restrained? Only in the last track, Port na Bpúcaí, she really radiates as her mesmerizing voice intertwines with the persistant drone thrumming in the undercurrent of sound.
So, not a bad showing at all and very nice to play after a long day. But to me at least it’s more of an interlude or a breather in a bright jewel of her music catalogue and remarkable career in Irish music. Here’s waiting for the next one!