Irish Music Magazine - Nicky Rossiter
The Plum Tree and the Rose
13 Tracks, 47 Minutes
This is a fascinating release that has a wonderful combination of the old, sometimes very old, and the new. McQuaid has a voice very well suited to all the tracks and a heart that appears to appreciate the long folk tradition with a mind and a talent to almost replicate it while modernising it with style.
Her opening track Lift You Up and Let You Fly is from her own pen and is bang up to the minute with its theme of parents letting children go to make their own way in the world.
On the tracks Hardwick’s Lofty Towers and Kenilworth she reveals a wonderful empathy with the old style ballads of long ago with well written, arranged and performed stories of historical characters and events. Both songs are accompanied by extensive notes in the insert booklet giving us a nice historical background to better enjoy the stories. In Derby Cathedral she draws the listener into a leisurely stroll through an historic location. But life is not all about those long gone misty eyed days of yore with McQuaid. The Sun Goes on Rising brings us squarely back to 21st century reality of the “wolf at the door” and the consequences of recent economic past.
She delves back into the ballad canon with spirited renditions of songs from around 1600 with Can She Excuse My Wrongs and New Oysters New. It is amazing when we listen to such songs to realise that others – probably not the lesser beings of society – heard these very lyrics before Oliver Cromwell was a gleam in his mother’s eye.
The title track is another new song with a title and sentiment very much rooted in those earlier days. She closes proceeding with a beautiful song called In Gratitude I Sing and I suppose the listener will echo this with “in greater gratitude I listen”.