Review Archive

'North' from Mary Dillon - ‘unadulterated purity’

(December 12, 2012)

There’s a genuine enchantment and precious quality to Mary Dillon’s voice that more than a decade North - Mary Dillonaway from performing has not diminished. The purity of her voice and her faultless vocal touch is evident in her first solo album ‘North’ and believe me this album will long stand as a cherished example of the Ulster singing tradition. Ranging across the rich legacy of Ireland’s music with songs that tell stories and set scenes this album offers both unsullied tradition and heritage mixed perfectly with original arrangements and compositions. 

From the impeccably delivered narrative of ‘When A Man’s In Love’ through a beautifully refreshed arrangement of ‘The Banks Of Claudy’ to the overwhelming sadness and loss in the harrowing tale of ‘John Condon’ - these are songs that cannot fail to touch you. The presence and power of each story and its characters are flawlessly encapsulated by Mary’s pure vocals. Moving deftly across both old songs and contemporary composition, Mary sings her own stunningly poignant love song ‘The Boatman’ and lends a deeply emotive essence to the mournful ‘Edward On The Lough Erne Shore’ – a shiver ran up my spine listening to her voice carry this magical song.

As I recall, some company that sells designer-water uses the phrase ‘unadulterated purity’ to describe its product - they have no idea what they’re talking about – listen to ‘North’ to hear an accurate embodiment of that phrase.

Mary will perform songs from ‘North’ at a series of gigs starting with the Celtic Connections on 19 January in Glasgow. The album releases on 28 January 2013. ‘North’ is available now for pre-order on Mary’s website at

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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