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Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra breach boundaries with new album

Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra.

Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra.

BY SEÁN P. FEENY
ONE of Ireland’s biggest music stars, Moya Brennan, and her musical director have once again joined forces o bring you a top notch album.

Following on from their first successful collaboration, Voices & Harps, Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra have just released Affinity, an album that has seen them develop as a duo and stretch their boundaries.

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Moya said: “We got more used to each other, even in song-writing; we’ve written more songs together on this album, but we’ve also stretched the boundaries a little bit and done something different with harps and vocals.”

The world famous Gaoth Dobhair native has never recorded covers during her 40-year career, apart from releasing a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now with Paul Young in 1991.
For this album Cormac and Moya decided t go for a cover and it came to her on car journey home from Cork with her daughter Aisling one evening.

She said: “I thought it would be nice to do a cover and there’s a lot of songs you could, but I wanted to do something different.
“I was coming back from a gig in Cork with my daughter Aisling listening to the radio and about a mile from home and Sailing by Christopher Cross came on.

“When Cross’s album came out in the ‘80s I knew all the songs. When Sailing came on the radio, I know right away the guitar part would be perfect for the harp.
“Cormac didn’t really know the song, but when we played it, it all just fell into place when the two harps were playing together. Cormac has a lot of fun during the middle section of the song, having to flick blades on the harp and change keys.”

Moya had previously spoken to her husband Tim Jarvis about doing cover songs and when she told him the had come up with Sailing, Tim showed her a list he had saved on his mobile phone and the Christopher Cross hit was on top of the list. It was fate.

Of course, Affinity also ticks all the other boxes; it has a lot of new material, but it also has a lot of the traditional songs that Moya and the de Barra family are noted for.
It features a beautiful lullaby that Cormac learned from his grandmother and shows off his own singing talents, the O’Carolan harp instrumental Captain O’Kane and much more.

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Moya and Cormac chose songs for this album for various reasons and were even inspired by a Hollywood star to feature one of her favourite songs.

“We were invited to perform at a function in New York honouring Angelica Huston and her father, director John Huston. One of my favourite movies is John Huston’s The Dead, in which Frank Patterson sings The Last Of Aughrim, which turned out to be one of Angelica’s favourite songs and she said ‘You have to put this song on an album!’,” Moya laughed.

This is another top class album from one of Donegal’s favourite daughter’s and her long-time musical director and friend, Cormac de Barra.
Moya said: “Overall we are really thrilled about the album and the reaction it has received has been overwhelming. It’s definitely a step up from the last.”

Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra will launch their new album Affinity at Leo’s Tavern on Saturday, June 22, at Leo’s Tavern, Meenaleck, Crolly. The launch is taking place as part of their Voices & Harps workshop weekend in West Donegal and to find out more about the event, don’t miss Monday’s Donegal News.

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