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Irish Times Review of “Mooney’s Blues”

Mooney’s Blues – Contemporary, authentic, self-deprecating rhythm and blues

Dubliner Nigel Mooney’s tunes offer meticulous attention to musical detail and soar above imitators and revivalists

What right has a middle-class boy from Dublin got to sing the blues? There is no doubting the enduring appeal of mid-20th-century African-American music, of hep language and honking horns, of swinging grooves and flattened sevenths, but what has that got to do with anything in 21st-century Ireland? Guitarist and songwriter Nigel Mooney answers the question incisively in his liner note, and decisively in the music, on his enjoyable fourth album.

Founder and front man of the pioneering Gripewater Blues Band back in the early 1980s, Mooney has spent a lifetime swimming in the warm waters of the Mississippi and he knows his blues. But what raises the songwriting here above that of the imitators and revivalists is the contemporary references, the self-deprecating humour, and the authentic situations and emotions in his lyrics.

Mooney’s productions are also characterised by a meticulous attention to musical detail, and the cast of jazz grandees assembled here, including saxophonists Jean Toussaint, Michael Buckley and Brendan Doyle, backing vocals from Memphis diva Deborah Swiney, string arrangements from the great Fiachra Trench, not to mention Mooney’s own classy quartet, all add up to an hour of high-quality music that will delight those who need a fresh shot of old school rhythm and blues. And Mooney’s tunes, particularly the meta-blues of the title track, evince an awareness of all these contradictions that somehow make it all alright.

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