Feature Album of the Week – Black Irish from Shannon McNally

May 27, 2017 | By

Shannon McNally is not a new voice on the roots music scene. She’s been at it since her college days, and she has seven previous albums to her credit, but the considered opinion seems to be that her new record, ‘Black Irish”, might just be the one to break her big on the Americana music scene.

It is, without doubt, and Americana album with songs variously showing influences from blues, soul, gospel and, of course, country music.

The album is produced by Rodney Crowell, and McNally, credits her email relationship with Crowell with pulling her out of a depression rooted in divorce and the loss of her mother.

The process really began when Shannon, feeling too depressed to write, sat down and recorded a cover of the Emmylou Harris song Prayer in Open D, and sent it on to Crowell, who responded by encouraging her to record more covers.

In the end, the record is made up of a couple of original co-writes, a couple of songs from Rodney’s pen, and covers of a bunch of Shannon’s favourite writers, including Stevie Wonder, Robbie Robertson, JJ Cale.

“I just love great songs,” McNally says. “I’m inspired by Willie Nelson, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, Bill Withers, Mavis Staples. None of them hesitate to sing any song they feel like singing, even if they didn’t write it. I think great songs need to be spotlighted, they need to recycle back up into the consciousness.” 

Side One of this terrific album kicks off with one of the Rodney Crowell tunes, You Made Me Feel For You, and concludes with Susanna Clark’s song about Townes van Zandt, Black Haired Boy, with Shannon’s own stand out track, Banshee Moan right in the middle.

When she heads over to the blues/soul side of town, as she does on Roll Away The Stone, I hear a lot of Bonnie Raitt in her voice, and that’s a good thing, but Shannon McNally has her own voice, and no doubt about it.

The standouts on side two, for me, are the previously mentioned Prayer in Open D, the song which got the project rolling, and the Robbie Robertson classic, It Makes No Difference.

Black Irish is the Feature Album of the week on FolkNRoots Radio this week, and the first full play through happens at 4 pm eastern on Saturday, immediately following Twenty Eight Tunes.

Tune in, and check it out, and if you like these songs as much as I do, then go grab it when it drops June 9.

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Category: Record Reviews

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