Iarla O Lionaird was born into a world of song in Cuil Aodha, a small, Irish-speaking enclave in west Cork.
Strictly speaking, this isn't a solo album or a follow-up to Iarla O'Lionaird's The Seven Steps to Mercy. This is actually the soundtrack to an Irish film and sees the singer working with talents such as Martin Hayes, Noel Hill, Sinead O'Connor, and producer Ron Aslan. Which isn't to say there isn't plenty of O'Lionaird's wonderful sean nos singing--there's a gorgeous version of "I'm Stretched on Your Grave," for example--but this is a man's experience in Ireland and England, running the gamut from simple beauty to some desperate and nightmarish dreamscapes.
A lot of the tracks work heavily off samples, both instruments and voices, with O'Lionaird providing many of the textures himself. The juxtaposition of the green and the grit--country and city, innocence and experience--push this along, and O'Connor has rarely sounded as naked as she does on "Roisin Dubh." The final duet between vocalists is as pure and lovely as Irish music gets. --Chris Nickson