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CD - Frances Black The Best Of

Review by

Frances Black has a career made up from various shards of the Celtic music boom from the early '90s. Being the youngest member of the ever musical Black Family (right, Mary Black is her older sister) she began her recording career with Kieran Goss in 1994.

The sound was decidedly more pop oriented without losing the uniquely Irish touches that this sound is rooted in. The music she makes is tender, sometimes melancholy, and yet her voice, walking a line between her sister's combined with the timbre of Nanci Griffith's (whose "On Grafton Street" is here with the writer on harmony vocals), is expressive of emotions behind or perhaps beyond the lyrics of the songs she chooses to sing.

Tammy Rogers "You Will Miss Me" is a high point as well for its melancholy expression, which nonetheless holds acceptance as its M.O. This collection is packed. There are 16 cuts taken from her first six solo records, and a bonus in a reading of the great Ewan MacColl's "Legal Illegal."

Black has a very fine understanding of material and places songs that are uniquely suited to her delivery. She understates everything and therefore the song has to be subtle as well. It's true, her work is not for everybody (especially traditionalists), but she never tried to make it so.

This is Celtic pop of the first order, and this set it a righteous summation of her early career.

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