It has been a long, long time since we have been so stunned by a voice. Perfect. Time To Sail is this woman's first album. It will not be her last. A secondary teacher, currently on career break, this incredible talent is from Dingle, where she owns a music pub with her husband. This is a self-produced wonder of an album. She gathered some of the best musicians in Ireland to back her up, and the result is a gem of a creation, led by her voice. Clear. Strong. Sure. Eilis is another major talent, new on the scene, and set for a long, long run. More! More!
Nead na Lachan:
Who Knows Where the Time Goes:
Amhran na Leabhar:
- Nead na Lachan
- Who Knows Where The Time Goes
- The Factory Girl
- Crazy Man Michael
- Lord Franklin
- Amrhán na Leabhar
- Andy's Gone
- Tá Mé 'Mo Shuí
- Black is the Colour
Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2 presenter 18.9.02
I think this is one of my albums of the year so far, because it's got some of the finest versions I've ever heard of Crazy Man Michael, Lord Franklin and the Nic Jones song, Canadeeio. I want to play now what I think bar Sandy Denny's version of Who Know Where The Time Goes. I think this is 100% gold.
BBC Radio 2 Folk Web Site
Kerry-born Éilís (say Aylish) Kennedy comes of an Irish family where both music and the Gaelic language were part of everyday life, a happy fact reflected in this debut album. Time To Sail was recorded in her home town of Dingle and features, apart from her own pure, natural voice, a ton of top Irish artists including Máire Breathnach (fiddle, viola), William Coulter (guitar), Virginia McKee (clarinet), Bruce Abraham (slide guitar) and Séamus Begley (vocal).
Subtle and lush arrangements woven around traditional songs in two languages are the order of the day. Most of the ten tracks have been round the block many a time but Kennedy reworks them with a freshness that belies any qualms of pastiche. The Factory Girl, bouncing along on Gregg Sheehan's funky percussion, dives into two slide guitar and kalimba-drenched barn dances; gorgeous layers of cello and clarinet drive away any echoes of Sandy Denny in Crazy Man Michael and Who Knows Where The Time Goes; Black is the Colour's characterful phrasing and spooky slide guitar/woodwind soundscape prevents it neatly from stepping on Cara Dillon's justly acclaimed version. Of the less familiar material, two Gaelic songs in particular tug the heartstrings - Amhrán na Leabhar (The Song Of Books), an 18th century poet's lament for the loss of a boatload of beloved books to the sea and a song of loves' tribulations, Tá Mé 'mo Shuí.
Whatever it is, that indefinable quality that raises one singer above the many in these days of talent glut, Éilís has it. A great debut from a major new talent, Time To Sail is making big waves on both sides of the pond. Let's hope some UK gigs are in the offing - I hear she's really stunning live. Mel McClellan - November 2002
Live Ireland Web Site Nov 02
What a discovery Eilis Kennedy is! We have been stunned by her debut album, Time To Sail.
Eilis lives in Dingle, Co. Kerry and runs a music bar with her husband John. Also a high school teacher, Eilis is currently on a career break. We are the lucky ones.
This album showcases a major new voice in Irish traditional music. Some of the country's best musicians have gathered around to appear on this album. The guest list includes the likes of Maire Breathnach, William Coulter, Seamus Begley, and Bruce Abraham on a great slide guitar.
There are more. Here's the point. This woman can sing. Really sing! A lot of the female voices currently heard in Irish music are very similar, and they must be listened to closely to hear any difference. The great ones--Triona and Maighread ni Dhomnaill, Cathie Ryan, Maranna Mc Closkey and Fionola o' Sciochru can be identified by voice in a storm! Different. Clear. Strong.
And, now, we add Eilis Kennedy to that very special list. This is a wonderfully produced album, with a really striking cover. Lovely. Also on offer here is the definitive version of "Franklin", the song about the 19th century explorer, Lord John Franklin, lost in a polar expedition in 1845. We heard Altan and others do this, but Eilis' version stopped us dead in our tracks.
A gob- smacking stunner. Great other tunes--uptempo, ballads, airs, a really lovely mix. Get your mitts on this one! and be prepared to listen and fall in love.
This is an incredible new talent on the international scene following recent tours with William Coulter. WOW! Bill Margeson
Pay The Reckoning Web Site Review
A major new talent emerges!
Kennedy's debut is a thoughtful, intelligent and well-balanced collection of songs (and the odd tune), delivered by a singer whose control, phrasing and ability to communicate are a delight and whose backing musicians provide tasteful and sympathetic arrangements which complement her approach perfectly.
Kennedy evidently has an affection for the material which emanated from the folk revival in England in the 60s and 70s, as four of the tracks on offer attest. Her version of Sandy Denny's often-covered "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" in our opinion manages to surpass the fragile beauty of the original. Her rendition of "Crazy Man Michael", another song which will be forever associated with Denny from her performance on Fairport Convention's "Liege and Lief", is yet another case in point.
However Denny is not the only troubadour of that era to inspire Kennedy. She manages to knock us for six with a poignant reading of the classic "Canadeeio" (which puts the versions by both Nic Jones and Bob Dylan in the shade). And still she finds time to resurrect, dust down and polish to a high lustre "Lord Franklin" - a song which John Renbourn and Jacqui McShee placed their stamp on many years ago.
Elsewhere you'll find yourself tapping your foot along to the sparse (but dramatic!) "Factory Girls" - a nod to the song tradition "across the pond". And you'll be captivated by the Australian song "Andy's Gone".
Her version of "Black Is The Colour" invites comparisons to the recent revival of the song by Cara Dillon. The critics went wild over Dillon's rendition on its release. However they hadn't heard Kennedy at that stage and we respectfully suggest that anyone who rates highly Dillon's reading of the song ought to give Kennedy a listen. Perhaps they'll agree with us that Kennedy's version is a much more characterful rendition.
Three songs in Irish complete the set. "Nead na Lachan" is a jaunty jig which serves as a great introduction to the album. "Amhran na Leabhar" and "Ta Me 'Mo Shui" on the other hand are much more complex and moving numbers which show off Kennedy's voice to great effect.
A mighty album, then! One which will find its way to your CD player time after time and whose nuances and subtleties will become more revealed on each playing.
Net Rhythms Web Site
I know next to nothing about Éilís, aside from the facts that she hails from Dingle in County Kerry and that Time To Sail is, astonishingly, her début album. It is a very fine collection, mixing traditional and contemporary material in a thoroughly engaging manner and with an equal affinity for either category of song.
Admittedly, the track-list contains some over-familiar titles — Lord Franklin, Black Is The Colour, Canadee-I-O and two associated with Sandy Denny (Who Knows Where The Time Goes?, Crazy Man Michael) — but it's to Éilís's credit that her versions of the vast majority of these turn out to be among the finest available (notwithstanding my personal hobby-horse about some spurious words in CMM); and I'd even rate Éilís's version of Black Is The Colour (which closes the album in fine style) above Cara Dillon's then-matchless reading of only a year or so ago.
Éilís is an exciting singer, who is clearly inspired by the texts she sings. She has a real flair for communicating expressively but not over-ornately, and possesses an enviable control of phrasing and dynamics. Her degree of accomplishment is uniformly impressive, on slower and faster material alike — her lightness and vocal control on the jig-paced opener Nead Na Lachan and the energetic Factory Girls contrasts well with the emotional impact of the Henry Lawson setting Andy's GoneA-Droving, forinstance.
All of which makes it all the more surprising that her name was not previously known to me. She manages to be both moving and tasteful in her interpretations, and to this end she is aided considerably by her choice of supporting tone colours and accompanying musicians, which includes Máire Breathnach (fiddle), Virginia McKee (clarinet), William Coulter (guitar), Barry Phillips (cello) and Bruce Abraham (slide guitar).
This is a superb album, with a well-defined character and a stamp of real lasting quality, and a credit to all concerned. David Kidman
Folk Roots Magazine
Eilis Kennedy from Dingle Co Kerry is a quietly growing presence on Irish singing circles. Her debut album Time To Sail unveils a massively underrated vocal talent with a quiet mastery of her craft. Her voice is a thing of gentle sublime beauty, the like for which mothers would be sold and kings ransoms exchanged.. Her sweet, clear, and flowing tones make short work of demanding songs in both English and Gaelic. The material chosen includes some demanding songs from traditional epics Amhrán Na Leabhair and Ta Mé Mo Shuí, Canadee I O and Lord Franklin both hallowed pages from the Nic Jones and Martin Carthy songbook and Sandy Dennys seminal Who Knows where The Time Goes. While some of these approach standard status , Eilis not only handles these songs with care but also infuses them with a fresh buoyancy and relevance. . Two classic examples are Who Knows Where The Time Goes, a hard choice baring in mind the mighty shots Sandy, Judy Collins and Mary Black have had at this simple yet sublime allegory to Trevor Lucas. With William Coulters steel string guitar and Barry Phillips mournful cello, Eilis supple voice exhibits a steely yet reserved emotional strength. Likewise, Ta Mé Mo Shuí is equally minimalist in approach with her vocal performance shining in the quiet majesty of comfortable songs and arrangement. Its not all heavy weather though as Nead Na Lachain skips merrily along on waves of enthusiasm and a feisty percussive treatment of The Factory Girl mixes afro-American idioms with Irish vocal nous. Exhibiting a sense of restraint and care she brings a freshness to her performances suggesting comparisons with Kate Rusby, Bill Jones or closer to home Mary Black or Cara Dillon. Time To Sail is a work of gentle yet firm vocal majesty and adroit choice of material a sweetly beguiling affair the like of which falling in love with is not only just possible but inevitable.
The Irish Times December 2001
Without a lick of paint or a blast of fanfare, Eilis Kennedy ( one time member of the Melting Pot from Baile na nGall) has released a spectacular solo debut. Kennedy, a singer whose vocals need neither searchlight nor scaffolding to bore holes into the soul, belongs to a select company of singers (alongside Karan Casey and Virginia Rodriguez) possessd of the finesse of a seamstress and the precision of a neurosurgeon. Tá Mé 'Mo Shuí straddles the folk/trad divide effortlessly, Kennedy's guileless vocals hammocked by Barry Phillips' perfectly-judged cello. Her re-working of The Factory Girl , funkily imbued with a new-found hip-swivelling optimism, gels startlingly with a pair of barndances that lift and seperate the sentiment and rhythms as though they were genetically engineered for one another. A magnificent collection. ". Siobhán Long, The Irish Times
Irish Music Magazine
Every once in a while, an album comes along which heralds a potentially, major yet underrated vocal talent. My first exposition to Eilis Kennedy and her debut album Time To Sail was through hearing Nead na Lachan sail through the radio waves, her clear sparkling voice and a clever arrangement made me want to checked out this Dingle based native. Now having listened to Time To Sail several times, my thoughts are unchanged Eilis Kennedy is an untapped major vocal talent waiting for the moment to shine. Why? For starters, she has a soft yet lyrical voice, which clearly sails through the albums ten, tracks and is equally at home with traditional and contemporary material. Some of the latter chosen is quite daunting including Sandy Dennys classic Who Knows where the Time Goes, Fairport Conventions Crazy Man Michael and Nic Jones s Canadee -i-o.
In the case of Who Knows where the Time Goes where lesser hands would have made a histrionic meal, Eilis interprets Sandy Dennys wistful allegory to her then lover Trevor Lucas with a quietly impressive authority and Canadee -i-o emerges as a fresh delightful performance. Where Eilis Kennedy scores is in the subtle arrangements framing her sparkling vocal chords and a tasteful choice in material. Time To Sails success is due to taste on all fronts- a gorgeous record no more no less.
Currently on furlough from a teaching career, this fine singer has taken her time in releasing her debut album. It has been quite a while in the planning, but is well worth the wait. An engaging mix of the traditional and comtemporary, it showcases to strong effect a warm voice and also a talent for picking damn good songs. The opening track Nead Na Lachan sets the tone; bouncy and full of movement, it demonstrates an easy relationship to rhythm. The real test of an album such as this