ALBUM REVIEW: Songs for all the homesick far, far away from the families

LONGING FOR HOME: Irish folk singer Cara Dillon's seventh studio album, Wanderer, is out on Charcoal Records. Photo by Matt Austin.
  • Cut-glass Celtic voice longs for her place of birth

Wanderer, Cara Dillon, Charcoal Records, Out Now

County Derry folk queen Cara Dillon has both her eyes and heart set on home if new album Wanderer is anything to go by.

Ten tracks full of references to Northern Ireland landmarks, from tern birds and “Lakeside Swans” (the album’s ninth track) to the Rivers Foyle, Faughan and Bann, the province’s longest stretch of water measuring 80 miles.

Cara and musical partner, producer and husband Sam Lakeman strip everything back for Wanderer, utilising just piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, double bass and fiddle to offer a heart-rending homage to the land of her birth.

Just to add some context to the album, Cara was born and bred in the County Derry town of Dungiven, also famous for being the home of the famous All-Ireland Gaelic football champions of 1993.

Solitude is the hallmark of Wanderer, best illustrated by the songs “Both Sides the Tweed” and “The Banks of the Bann” which consist largely of Lakeman’s piano playing and Cara’s Dana-esque vocals.

Having lived outside of Ireland for most of my adult life, I continue to identify with these songs of departure and longing for home on a very personal level.

Cara Dillon, Wanderer

But she also embraces a more fuller sound, with the entire complement of instruments in action for “The Banks of the Foyle, Sailor Boy and Dubhdara”.

Cara and her husband consider Wanderer to be an album full of “songs of departure and longing for home on a very personal level”, with an underlying theme of “emigration, the movement of people and the pursuit of love”.

Far and away the most accurate of Wanderer is the one offered by music critic Neil Spencer who described the album simply as “gorgeous homesick blues”, as opposed to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.

Review by Winston Brown.

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