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4/04/2012

Irish World

Oonagh Derby has caught so many exciting sonic worlds in one album, with energised and sensitive arrangements that have a modern edge to them as well as a respective nod to her traditions. She’s one to watch, big time.

Shetland News

Gerry O’Connor is the master of the banjo, and his intricate playing was a delight to observe. Oonagh Derby and her amazingly powerful voice had the audience tapping and swaying, especially to her upbeat number “Silver Shoes”.

The Irish Post

This is a cracking debut album that has manifestly been given a lot of thought. It should certainly help establish Oonagh Derby's reputation as a singer and songwriter of real quality.

Nick Rossiter - Irish Music Magazine

Another singer songwriter emerges from Armagh, is there something in the water up there? Oonagh Derby has a lovely voice, a great facility with words that she blends seamlessly with ideal tunes on ten of these dozen tracks. Her voice and delivery on some of them are reminders of Eleanor McEvoy and I hope she will accept that as a compliment.

There is a diversity of performance styles on offer on the tracks from the cool clean laid back Sugar Babes About You Now into her own more thumping and rocky Sick Sore & Tired. The title track is a great showcase of her writing and performing. / Still Believe is a beautifully written and scored personal song about the lives we all lead but Derby puts into a few nicely performed verses.

There is an Irish saga feel to the strong Beauty the Betrayer' as she talks of everyday things backed by the pipes and unless we listen closely we think we are hearing of something from the days of the red branch knights. All you parents and grandparents listening will be enthralled by the very well observed jigsaw Pieces, listen closely, remember, smile and maybe grow misty eyed. Silver Shoes offers sentiments of a life as it changes with responsibility and parenthood while Lovely Friend and I Am Because bring us the very positive sides of maturing in life and love. Great as her writing is one of the most arresting tracks is her interpretation of Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. She gets it just right.

She closes with a sort of enigmatic The Dove Children that leaves the listener waiting eagerly for more.

Ian Spatfford - Stirrings Magazine

Oonagh Derby is a singer/songwriter from Armagh who here presents ten self-penned song together with two covers: The Sugar Babes’ About You Now, on which I will make no comment, being unfamiliar with the original, and an excellent take on Dear Miss Lonely Hearts, one of my favourites from the Phil Lynott canon and superb demonstration on how to cram as many internal rhymes as you possibly can into one set of lyrics.

Many of her own songs are on the subject of love, lost (September, Harmony Street), found (I Am Because), for a friend (Lovely Friend – underpinned by some fine 60s/70s folk finger-style guitar), for a father (The Dove Children – a few seconds of pure celtic blues here from Barry Kerr’s uilleann pipes) and for a child (Jigsaw Pieces – loved Colin Henry’s discreet use of dobro).

Oonagh has a fine voice, writes good strong tunes and is a more , than competent lyricist. She gets sympathetic support from some very able musicians on guitar, flute, fiddle, bass, pipes, percussion, banjo, viola etc and the arrangements are well thought out and executed. Stylistically she rings the changes sufficiently to maintain interest throughout, from the country rock of Sick, Sore and Tired to Beauty the Betrayer – for me the standout track, a lament spoken over a slow air on the pipes.Recommended.

David Kidman - NetRhythms.com

Oonagh’s an Armagh singer-songwriter whose original songs, written from a modern-day woman’s perspective, are musically accessible while remaining edgily contemporary in outlook. Her debut CD’s 12 tracks comprise ten original compositions and two covers, and employ a comfortingly familiar-sounding instrumental backdrop that makes good capital of acoustic instrumentation alongside occasional use of a radio-friendly rhythm section. Oonagh has evidently found a sympathetic producer in Gerry O’Connor (of Four Men And A Dog fame), who also brings his own brand of banjo and fiddle virtuosity to the mix on several tracks.

Perhaps against the odds, Oonagh has chosen to kick off the CD with one of the covers, a neat and perky take on The Sugar Babes’ About You Now with some pleasing guest dobro work from Colin Henry well up in the mix. After that encouraging opener, though, I was surprised to find Oonagh’s own compositions, for all their well-sung and pleasantly scored qualities, rather lacking in individuality, at any rate the first pair, Sick Sore And Tired and the title track, these being little more than pop-rock confections with not a great deal of musical substance to fire the imagination. Things seem to improve with Oonagh’s poetic expression of regret on the more lyrical September and the cautious optimism of I Still Believe.

The album’s centrepiece, Beauty The Betrayer, is the odd-track-out in that it pits Oonagh’s spoken lyric against Barry Kerr’s keening uilleann pipes, and the wistful acoustica of Jigsaw Pieces (one of four songs jointly penned with Stephen Derby) is an affectionate expression of love for a child couched in a gentle and attractive musical setting. Lovely Friend continues in a similar vein, while the uptempo country-styled Silver Shoes explores the fantasies and regrets of a modern multi-tasking mother. However, the spell is then broken by I Am Because, another slight, pop-styled excursion that doesn’t really do anything special. Oonagh’s individual and clearly heartfelt cover of Thin Lizzy’s Dear Miss Lonely Hearts brings the disc’s final interlude, and qualifies as another successful reworking, leading effectively into one of the album’s standout cuts.

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