Valparaiso is an album with a strong sense of place. It reaches out to the world and draws themes and musical influences from far off places but always returns to Ireland as home. In this her second solo album Rita again treats us to a variety of musical styles which highlight her versatility as a singer and songwriter and make her music virtually impossible to categorise. This has a uniqueness which has now become the trademark of Rita Connolly.
Typical is the title track 'Valparaiso' which takes it's name from a port on the coast of Chile. This song was written by Rita and features a family chorus that includes her parents. Rita who was once described as one of the great guarded treasures of Irish music has opened up her treasure chest of talent to present us with songs that range from powerful epic like 'The Only True History of Lizzie Finn'.The album's contemporary line up includes tracks like 'Ocean Floor' by Sonny Condell and 'His Name is Elvis' a Sebastion Barry/Shaun Davey collaboration. In choosing songs by Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly, Rita has drawn from songwriters who were a formative influence. The album also features songs specially written for her by Shaun Davey including 'The Great Guns Roar'. To round things off the album contains a new recording of the 'Granuaile' classic 'Ripples in the Rockpools'.
However the track that many listeners are likely to be pleased to hear in its entirety is 'The Quiet Land of Erin'. Rita is joined on this track by Iarla O'Lionaird which proves to be a moving combination of voices made possible by the ethereal arrangement of the song by Shaun Davey who has produced the album.
The music of Rita Connolly has such wide appeal that there is something for everybody on this album and as with all of her work it is delivered with a natural ease and clarity that never fails to please an audience.
" For Reasons best known to herself, Rita Connolly has chosen to remain largely out of he spotlight, compared to the high profile afforded to other Irish folk-inspired chanteuses. Which is a pity really, as she takes far more risks musically than most of the others put together............Haunting stuff and a worthy successor to her debut. The thinking man's Enya?"
"Rita Connolly is a singer of regal stature whose second solo album 'Valparaiso' does her reputation justice. This time she has revisited her contemporary Irish roots with songs by Sonny Condell, 'Ocean Floor' & 'Two White Horses', and Leo O'Kelly's poignant 'Piccadilly' joining material by Shaun Davey and Sebastion Barry. Her vocals are exemplary as ever, and some intriguing choices. Irving Berlin's 'Shakin' The Blues Away' and Mike Nesmith's 'Rio" get the Connolly treatment. Tasteful musicianship and arrangements welded to the magnificent voice of Rita Connolly make 'Valparaiso' a treat for tired ears."
Valparaiso, though not quiet as strong in
musical content as the first of Rita's albums, is a well-crafted
collection. She reworked the traditional "The Quiet Land of Erin"
quiet nicely. (This listener would like to hear more of this sort
of thing.) Especially nice on this album is a stirring remake of
Irving Berlin's "Shakin' the Blues Away," and the hauntingly beautiful
title song, "Valparaiso," an original by Connolly. These three songs
alone make the album worth the price.
Jo Morrison - The Green Man Review