Picks and Pans Review: Babes in the Wood

updated 03/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/02/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mary Black

An Irish folksinger with a deceptively demure voice, Mary Black may find the wider audience she seeks with this artfully arranged LP, her second to be released in the U.S.

Combining the impeccable phrasing of Joni Mitchell with a ladylike spunk all her own, Black shines brightest on ballads by Irish songwriters. Worth going back to are Thom Moore's yearning "Still Believing," Kieron Goss's fiddle-stoked "Brand New Star" and Noel Brazil's wistful "Golden Mile."

Black's borrowings from other writers seem less inspired. On Richard Thompson's "The Dimming of the Day," she achieves vocal purity at the expense of the song's heart. Something similar occurs with Joni Mitchell's "The Urge for Going." Gone is the plaintiveness that made this song so memorable. In its place is a too steely sadness.

Produced by Declan Sinnott, Black's former bandmate who also pitches in on guitar, dobro, mandolin and backup vocals, Babes in the Wood is a worthy successor to No Frontiers (1990) and as good an introduction as any to this compelling singer. (Gift-horse/Curb)"

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