There is no better narrator in popular music than Christy Moore. On this latest album the veteran Irish troubadour turns in a vintage performance on a dozen songs gathered from fellow travellers and from history, alongside a handful of his own. There is instrumental accompaniment, although not much, this being a lockdown album made in an improvised studio, but Moore’s lilting brogue remains, as ever, commanding. The headline number (and single) is The Clock Winds Down, a tart comment on global warming from Jim Page – “Hey old man what did you do? We were depending on you” – but Moore can roam effortlessly across history and moods.
The traditional Van Diemen’s Land still shocks with its account of the horrors of transportation to Australia for the crime of poaching, while Mick Hanley’s All I Remember, recorded in 1981 and reprised here, evokes growing up in a repressive 1950s Ireland. Moore’s own Bord Na Móna Man is likewise a comic reminiscence of an era when turf-cutting was a feature of national life. Zozimus and Zimmerman is closer to home, a tribute to Bob Dylan topped by a version of I Pity the Poor Immigrant, with its enigmatic mix of empathy and judgment. A masterclass from a unique talent.