by Derek O'Connor
July 8, 2002
Judging by the pre-show buzz on a summer's evening in downtown Letterkenny, Maura O'Connell's status as national musical treasure remains utterly secure.
Touring her first record in five years, the warmly received Walls and Windows, this Ennis woman turned Nashville player remains as savy as ever when it comes to her songwriters: Ron Sexsmith's Don't Ask Why and Patty Griffin's Poor Man's House, both Walls and Windows highlights, shine brightly in their live incarnations. One is reminded of the smart choices O'Connell has made over the years--from Paul Brady's To Be the One to Andy Irvine's West Coast of Clare, from Richard Thompson's The Drunkards Roll to John Prine's Sleepy Eyed Boy, she's interpreted tunes by the best and made them her own.
When she returns for an encore of The Water is Wide, the effect is electrifying (despite the best efforts of an intrusive mobile phone, the bane of the 21st-century theatrical experience, from the stalls).
©2002 The Irish Times