Album Review: Muireann Bradley, ‘I Kept These Old Blues’

Every now and then an album comes along that captures the essence of a musical style with grace and purity and an intimate understanding of the ways that the songs work. At 17, Murieann Bradley, who hails from Ballybofey in County Donegal, Ireland, has been developing her nuanced finger-picking style, and she showcases her smooth, crystalline playing and singing in her interpretations of 12 blues standards on her debut album, I Kept These Old Blues.

Bradley’s fingers dance off the frets, bending the strings on just the right notes in her spry version of “Buck Dancer’s Choice.” She never crowds the notes on the cascading arpeggios on the tune, allowing it unfold spaciously. Her buoyant take on “Freight Train” mimics the motion of the train, and her spiraling guitar work and vibrant vocals evoke the joy and the melancholy in the song.

The album opens with a lilting version of “Candyman,” while Bradley’s expansive version of “Richland Woman Blues” overflows with her dazzling picking. Her smooth take on “Shake Sugaree” blossoms into jaunty lead runs on the instrumental bridges and the outro, and Bradley’s sprightly version of “Vestapol” illustrates her keen ability to play in an understated way and to allow every note room to breathe on its own and to occupy its own musical space.

Every song on I Kept These Old Blues is a gem, and they introduce us to an artist who’s already playing with the confidence and maturity of players such as Jorma Kaukonen, Larry Campbell, and Ruthie Foster.


I Kept These Old Blues is available HERE


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