Picks and Pans Review: Helpless Heart

updated 02/05/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Maura O'Connell

Faith and begorrah, y'all. What we have here is a hearty, pure-voiced country singer, even if she was raised in Innis, Ireland.

O'Connell, 30, sang with an Irish traditionalist group before going solo. Now she splits her time between Ireland and Nashville. This, her first major-label album in the U.S., is an ail-American project in more ways than one, with songs by such local talents as Cheryl Wheeler ("Summerfly"), Karla Bonoff ("Isn't It Always Love") and Gordon Warren and Mack Gordon ("You'll Never Know"). The band includes such Nashville stars as Jerry Douglas and Mark O'Connor.

The deep, true tones O'Connell generates fit in beautifully in this environment, and if she doesn't display a hint of drawl or twang, she doesn't sing with a brogue either. She does sing with a rare ability that makes you want to start working up some fancy comparisons. The names of Judy Collins or Emmylou Harris come to mind. (Warner Bros.)

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