Mardles Magazine - Mike Everett

Sarah McQuaid
When Two Lovers Meet

Although this is a re-release from 1997, Sarah McQuaid is not a name that I’d come across before. She was born in Spain, grew up in Chicago, discovered Irish music as a student in Paris, and lived in Ireland from 1994 until earlier this year when she moved to Penzance. Her name may be familiar to some guitarists as the author of the Irish DADGAD guitar book ‘Playing & Backing Traditional Irish Music on Open-Tuned Guitar’ (Ossian Publications, Cork, 1995). However, soon after releasing this album the first time round, Sarah took a long break from the music scene. Now she’s back with a new album due for release early in 2008.

This debut album is a wonderful introduction to a fine singer and guitarist. It features traditional songs and tunes along with one original number. The mood is gentle, smooth and relaxing. Even numbers that you would expect to be upbeat and lively, like the ‘Chicago Reel’ from the playing of Willie Clancy and the traditional song ‘Johnny Lad’ become relatively calm and easy to listen to. Through it all, Sarah’s vocals and guitar playing are to the fore, but she has a prestigious collection of backing musicians including John McSherry on pipes and whistles, cellist Kevin Murphy, Rod McVey on keyboards, and singer Niamh Parsons. The title track, also known as ‘The Banks Of The Lee’, and the unaccompanied Táim Cortha ó Bheith im’ Aonar im’ Luí’ (similar to the broadside ballad Weary of Tumbling Alone) with verses sung alternately in Irish and English, are outstanding tracks on an album that would already be very good on its own. The album closes with a dazzling duet between Sarah and Niamh Parsons as they sing ‘The Parting Glass’ solo, in unison, and in harmony. When Two Lovers Meet is available in the UK through Proper Distribution. See sarahmcquaid.com for more details.