Singer and flautist Maggie Boyle has an organic, unadorned voice which is honest and refreshing to hear. At the snug venue in the upstairs room of the Newhampton Inn, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton she was on stage with acclaimed guitarist Paul Downes.
|Maggie Boyle at the Newhampton Folk Club
For the final show of the venue's Spring season, they opened as a duet with a traditional song Brave Boys with Downes on guitar picking out the accompaniment nicely.
With Once in a While, from her latest album Won't You Come Away, Boyle started a Capella and while her voice is not very powerful it is clear, precise and confident and was backed up perfectly by Downes again on guitar.
Downes picked up his banjo for well-known athem Sweet Nancy which was a soft ballad and this time the backing was provided by Boyle on flute.
The Irish singer then pulled out a trio of tunes using her flute starting with Lament for John Doherty which had a deeply melancholy feel to it and evoked memories of the Ken Loach classic Kes. This was followed by Betty-Sue Southall which was more upbeat and had Downes adding the sound of his guitar to fill in the colour of the tune. The final track was Paddy Boyle’s Highland which was a much lighter tune which was identifiably Celtic.
With Lady Margaret Boyle seemed to have really got into her stride and matched Downes who was showing his skill back on the guitar. Boyle went right back in the tradition with Donal Og from the 12th century and again her voice harmonised with Downes' playing.
There was in the 1960s a novelty song called There's a Hole in my Bucket which has slipped into obsolescence but has been cleverly reworked by Boyle's son and called Liza and Henry. If you didn't know the original then it would be a completely new song and if you did then once you got hold of the lyrics the penny would drop. The song was more upbeat than the original and Downes provided a racing guitar backing.
|Paul Downes on the banjo
They opened the second half of their set with a gentle ballad from Boyle in Moorlough Mary/Stream of Bawdeen which had a restful accompaniment of Downes' guitar which was then embellished with her flute.
The Old Man's Retreat is certainly not a cheerful song but it's strong lyrics about the evil in the world seemed a contradiction against Boyle's soft tones.
Downes then moved back on to the five string banjo to play unaccompanied and show his skilful picking, unfortunately his voice doesn't match his playing skills and his range is severely limited and fell flat a couple of times when trying to hit some of the notes.
With Linden Lea Boyle's voice seemed a little unsettled but then sang the title song from one of her albums Gweebarra Shore which she did a Capella and told the story of ordinary lives, immigration and the changing landscape.
Hate the Rain was a simple ballad which had a 70s feel to it. They finished on the almost inevitable immigration song, Road to Camden Town, which was a soft ballad and a new offering musing about coming to Ireland to England.