The concept for this volume of "Music heard on the Northern Homefront during the American Civil War" may sound like a history lesson for college students, but it quickly soars beyond that. Sung by Irish tenor Kevin M'Dermott, these songs are tuneful, poignant, and even rousing emotions that undoubtedly were part of their original design. Savor the quaint lyrics of "Uncle Sam's Farm": "For Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm." Or these lines from "The Battle Cry of Freedom": "Nobly strike for God and liberty, let all nations see/How we love our starry banner, emblem of the free." Between the songs are lively instrumentals, like "The Columbian Quadrilles," "Beauregard's Retreat from Shiloh," and "Valliance Polka Militaire." Not only do these tunes hearken back to a distant era, they are also great fun to listen to.
Kevin M'Dermott's lilting voice is perfect for this material, gliding through these songs like a singer caught in an 1860's time-warp. His rendition of the "Picture on the Wall" sears the heart. It is so well-articulated it draws you in with its touching lyrics. Is there a dry eye in the audience?
Engineered with splendid sound, Union & Liberty is an unforgettable recording.
Copyright © 1996, Peter Bates