While it isn’t unusual to hear country music coming out of Ireland the more usual Irish country does tend to the ‘yeehaw’ side of the genre and not too much of the more considered and ‘quality’ side. Bap Kennedy however is not your bog-standard Irish Country merchant.

‘America’ is a plaintive love song to the American dream and its heartfelt lyrics reflect on the loss of that dream. ‘Cold War Country Blues’ on the other hand celebrates the musical side of the US through the political eyes of biggest stars and then ‘The Right Stuff’ once more looks back to the potential of America through its history and through the actions of individuals. He writes passionately of Irish heroes like Michael Collins and manages to get right to the heart of a spaceman in ‘The Ballad Of Neil Armstrong’ and conjures up images of the driven and lost in the gorgeous ‘Brave Captain’.

Kennedy writes beautiful music and he has a gentle and expressive voice and the end result is an album that is as full of the hopes and aspirations of the songwriter as it is to the lost dreams and hopes of the American imigrés.but the best number on the album is the one that he didn’t write – a terrific country version of ‘Hey Joe’ that has nothing in common with the rest of the album but somehow just fits in perfectly.

This is country music at its best – not maudlin or whining and not breast beating and jingoistic either; just songs from the heart that make the listeners think and feel and that bears repeated listening, giving something new each time.