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on 5 June 2011
Joan Morris had a voice. Wow. Such a voice. I think she should have been employed in the steel industry to cut and shape heavy plate! I'm using the past tense since she must be retired by now.

Having said that, she knew how to soften and cajole with it also. If anything, her rendering of the title track is rather too soft for my taste and a bit maudlin; but authentic for the period of the song, I suppose. Generally, she belts it out and you hear every word. In my car, I find myself turning the volume down all the time.

The 20 songs are lifted from about 1880 to 1918, I would say. Sentimental, regretful, patriotic, romantic. It's all here. Her treatment of "I've Got Rings On My Fingers" [Jim O'Shea was castaway...] is a classic. Sung straight with just the right Irish lilt, and note-perfect. Much more authentic than the jazzy swoopy Judy Garland version.

I have the impression that her renderings are historically accurate, using the original versions of songs regardless of modern political correctness. Her singing voice is exceptional clear and lyrics are always totally intelligible. Such a rarity, even among classical singers, and almost unknown among modern artists.

The pianist is her husband William Balcom and he adds a great deal to the atmosphere by his spirited playing and the ever-so-slightly off-tone, honky-tonk sound of the instrument.

I'm glad I have this CD. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, because it's very dated in content, but you can listen to it without effort and it conjures up visions of romances and situations over a century ago.
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