Finbar Furey’s career is wrapped around the roots of Irish folk music. He started as a backing musician for The Clancy Brothers before forming The Fureys and leading this family based band for nearly thirty years. In the 1990s, his talents as musician, songwriter, producer and actor burst forth in a solo career which has established him as something of an Irish musical legend – a term that is well deserved in this case.
‘Don’t Stop This Now’ is the UK release of a record that appeared in Ireland as ‘Paddy Dear’. Suspicious souls will find that the renaming is due to the addition of three or four more tracks and its packaging with a DVD of a 2017 live recording captured in Dublin. The latter well worth the repackaging as it has few overlaps with the CD’s tracks and gathers up some classics from the past in live performance.
Whilst ageing voices can be problematical for singers, Fureys’ vocal on ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ is like Leonard Cohen or Johnny Cash in their later years when a well worn voice just slips onto the song like a pair of comfortable shoes. Sliding like honey around the opening track, ‘Sweet Liberty of Life’, the vocal and the music are reminiscent of J.J.Cale at his laid back best. Elsewhere on ‘Co-Exist’, there are deliberate Arabic flavourings to the music as, lyrically, it appeals to the people of this world to share its fruits in a peaceful manner.
However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that Irish traditions have been lost somewhere down the line. For starters, there is a recording of the traditional ‘The Galway Shawl’ complete with the pipes and whistles that Finbar Furey has played for many years. Indeed, these instruments pervade many of the other self-composed tracks on this record including ‘Paddy Dear’ and the closing ‘Lament for John’.
Despite having identified that his vocals are standing the test of time, he successfully recruits the support of daughter Áine to duet on the jaunty ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and a slinky ‘Hail Rain or Snow’. Family is clearly central to his life and it comes to the fore when he adds his own lyrics to a traditional song turning ‘I Remember You Singing This Song Ma’ into one of the highlights of this package. All in all, ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ slips easily into the world to show how Finbar Furey has matured like the finest of wines.