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ne of our most compelling live performers Fiona Joyce has been spending most of her time of late playing to foreign audiences which 1 suppose accounts in part for the fact that it is four years since the release of her last album. It must also say that others like what she does as much as we do. Sacred space is if anything an even finer piece of work than Lifting The Veil, its mixture of the abstract and the personal making connections on many levels.

'Angel Child' is a hymn of sorts to her homesick younger daughter, a snapshot of a moment, which all of us who are parents will recognise.

Elsewhere there are songs about the gaps in our fives, the inadequacies of love and the search for liberty, both in a personal and in a wider context.

What makes Fiona Joyce's take on such things more effective than most is that there is a total absence of artifice about what she does and who she is. The young woman whom I first saw in Downeys of Ballyfermot playing to a small audience is still the lady who can knock 'em cold on the west coast of America. the music has developed, and impressively so; had it not we probably wouldn't be listening now, but there is a pervasive honesty here that goes beyond works which the sparse and appropriate production serves only to accentuate. If more people made records like this the world would be an infinitely better place -

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River Valley Records, Shruthaun, Baltinglass, County Wicklow, Ireland