Properganda - Simon Holland

March 2012 

Album review – The Plum Tree And The Rose. “An album that is every bit as good as it is ambitious, striking and remarkable.”


Sarah McQuaid
The Plum Tree And The Rose
Waterbug Records - WBG104

Sarah grew up in America where her musical career began early, touring with the Chicago Children’s Choir and subsequently became an active member of Dublin’s arts and music community between 94 and 2007. She’s an accomplished guitarist too with a DADGAD tutorial published, but now living in Cornwall, all of the above and more besides makes its way into The Plum Tree And The Rose, an album that is every bit as good as it is ambitious, striking and remarkable.

It sounds superb, recorded in Dublin by Gerry O’Beirne and Niamh Parsons is amongst the guests. Somehow, the CD manages to fit canon singing, rounds and catches (In Derby Cathedral, New Oysters New and In Gratitude I Sing), Elizabethan courtship and sexual frustration (Kenilworth, Can She Excuse My Wrongs), an alba or dawn song (S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada) and a daring version of John Martyn’s Solid Air into its 13 songs. The latter, presented as a duet with Bill Blackmore’s trumpet, is genuinely haunting. Best of all though is Hardwick’s Lofty Towers, a story song that leaves a lingering desire to find out more, it’s a great piece of writing. Oh! And she has one of those voices too. (Sigh!)