Iarla O Lionaird
The Seven Steps to Mercy
Traditional ‘Gaeilge’-scapes abound here with some selective ambience through Michael Brook’s mere production. Pointedly, The Seven Steps to Mercy centers on the pure and shimmering vocal qualities of Iarla as he sings of immigrant memories, alcoholism, rivers, crucifixion, and love songs among others all in the Irish spirit. And he does it in a voice so perfect that it feels like you are in a cathedral or symphonic hall instead of your — wherever you are. It’s just set in a very solemn, quiet, and introspective mood.
“The Humming of the Bees” carries a Gabriel-esque rhythm bed to it providing a new age groove absorbing Iarla’s caressing vocal. It certainly has it’s possibilities as a trance crossover a al Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s successful fusion, although this is certainly more of a late-morning mix.
Michael Brook has provided several clever but subtly used techniques (or: Eno) very spottily, and a healthy dose of ambient atmospheres, but The Seven Steps to Mercy shines throughout with Iarla’s strong traditional ‘Gaeilge’ performance. Caroline Records, 104 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001