Sarah McQuaid | When Two Lovers Meet

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When Two Lovers Meet

by Sarah McQuaid

Sparkling guitar instrumentals and velvet-tinged vocals, described by The Rough Guide To Irish Music as "warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac . an astonishing debut by a unique talent."
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sprig of Thyme
3:38 $0.99
2. The Tempest
4:26 $0.99
3. When a Man's In Love
4:53 $0.99
4. King of the Fairies/The Blackbird
5:20 $0.99
5. Johnny Lad
3:43 $0.99
6. Charlie's Gone Home
4:06 $0.99
7. When Two Lovers Meet
6:53 $0.99
8. Táim Cortha ó Bheith im' Aonar im' Luí
6:41 $0.99
9. The Chicago Reel/The Green Fields of Glentown
4:34 $0.99
10. The Parting Glass
3:20 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Born in Madrid, Spain and raised in Chicago, singer/guitarist and songwriter Sarah McQuaid lived in Ireland from 1994 to 2007. She has now moved with her husband and two children to the home formerly occupied by her parents near Penzance, Cornwall.

As might be expected of one who has led such a peripatetic existence, Sarah developed a taste for the road early on: From the age of twelve she was embarking on ten-day tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir. A year or two later she was already a prolific songwriter, entertaining her classmates at school assemblies. At eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, where her performance at a local folk club drew a rave review in the Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, saluting the “superbe chanteuse d’outre-Atlantique qui fit passer comme une vibration émotionnelle dans une salle conquise” (superb singer from across the Atlantic who caused an emotional vibration to pass through a conquered hall)!

Having discovered Irish music and the DADGAD open tuning during her stint in France, Sarah went on to found the traditional band Carnloch after graduating from Haverford College (a Quaker institution better known as the co-educational counterpart of its sister college Bryn Mawr) with a Magna Cum Laude (High Honours) BA in philosophy. The band toured folk clubs, colleges and universities for several years, and released a self-produced CD, The Crooked Road, in 1993.

In 1994, Sarah moved to Ireland, where she became a weekly folk music columnist for the Evening Herald and a contributor to Hot Press magazine. She is also the author of a guitar tutor, The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book, described by The Irish Times as “a godsend to aspiring traditional guitarists.”

In the autumn of 1997, she recorded her debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet, featuring traditional tunes and songs along with one original number. The album received a sizeable amount of airplay and drew highly favourable reviews: “Boy, hasn’t Sarah got a good voice – rich, deep, mature,” Irish Music Magazine enthused, while The Irish Times called her “an accomplished guitarist” and the album “a debut to note”; Hot Press cited “a warm, velvet-tinged voice and a distinctive acoustic guitar style which mark her out as a significant talent” and the Rough Guide To Irish Music wrote: “Sarah’s voice is both as warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac.... An astonishing debut by a unique talent.”

Despite the critical acclaim, a long break from the music scene followed, during which Sarah worked full time as a magazine editor, married Feargal Shiels and had two children: Eli, born in 2003, and Lily Jane, born in 2005.

When Two Lovers Meet was re-released in Ireland on 23 February 2007, with distribution and promotional support from Gael Linn Records. Sarah’s ensuing nationwide tour was highly successful, thanks in large part to extensive coverage on radio (including interviews and live in-studio performances) and a very well-received appearance on The View, the acclaimed arts television show hosted by John Kelly on RTÉ1. Ranging from pubs to folk clubs to arts centres and theatres, the venues included such well-known locales as the Crane Bar (Galway), the Cobblestone (Dublin), Barry’s Public House (Grange, Co. Sligo), the Solstice Arts Centre (Navan, Co. Meath), the Flowerfield Arts Centre (Portstewart), the Triskel Arts Centre (Cork) and the Chord International Music Festival in Ennis, where she gave a workshop on the DADGAD guitar tuning in addition to her concert set.

In May 2007 she returned to Trevor Hutchinson’s Marguerite Studios in Dublin, where When Two Lovers Meet had been recorded some ten years previously, to make a new album with Gerry O’Beirne once again in the producer’s seat. The focus this time round is on old-timey American folk songs and tunes, plus two original songs; guest musicians include Hutchinson, O’Beirne, percussionist Liam Bradley and violinist/violist Máire Breatnach. Entitled I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning, the album is set for release in October 2008, following on from the UK release of When Two Lovers Meet on 30 July 2007 (UK distribution through Proper Records).

Now busy with upcoming tours and concerts in Ireland, the UK and Holland, Sarah is also slowly but surely working on a novel for which she’s received two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. She hopes to finish it one of these days.



to write a review

David Kidman - NetRhythms -

Timeless, fine-toned, warm and gently sensuous singing and thoughtful, sparkling
You can be easily forgiven for not having heard of Sarah... for this CD is a belated reissue of Sarah's widely-acclaimed debut, which was first released on a purely limited basis in Ireland in 1997.

It's a quiet, uniformly lyrical album, characterised by timeless, fine-toned, warm and gently sensuous singing and thoughtful, sparkling yet understated guitar work. The simple unadorned physical beauty of Sarah herself, as captured in the booklet's photographic portraits, is mirrored by the spare beauty of the music on the disc: 47 minutes of pure delight, entirely embodying Sarah's personal philosophy that “a soft approach can still be a source of joy, intensity, even wildness”. Indeed, the two lovers of the title could well be interpreted as vocal and instrumental performance, for their marriage is at once perfectly controlled and perfectly natural, both in conception and in execution.

The focus is always on Sarah's singing or playing, and she's blessed with unobtrusive and appealing settings which are a model of intelligence and sensitive restraint. In fact the overall feel of the album reminded me of the work of Niamh Parsons in that respect, and it came as no surprise to find her name among the credits (she duets with Sarah on her fabulous closing rendition of The Parting Glass, which done to an unusual tune, a little reminiscent of Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, which she learnt from the singing of Len Graham) along with piper John McSherry, bassist Trevor Hutchinson, cellist Kevin Murphy, fiddler Colm McGaughey, keyboard player Rod McVey and producer Gerry O'Beirne who pitches in with backing guitars and ukulele. The complement of the album is seven songs and three instrumental tracks, the latter rather surprisingly providing highlights of the set with richness in sparsity.

The songs include fetching variants of Sprig Of Thyme, the title track (also known as The Banks Of The Lee) and When A Man's In Love, also one of Sarah's own compositions (Charlie's Gone Home) which despite its “folkiness” still feels like the cuckoo in the nest (although it doesn't compromise the mood of the album in any way). Sarah sings unaccompanied on just one song, the macaronic-form Táim Cortha Ó Bheith Im' Aonar Im' Luí. Finally, the good news is that Sarah's just moved to Cornwall and plans to release a new CD next year. For the time being, though, this treasure of an album is now available easily in the UK through Proper Distribution and by the good auspices of Gael Linn.

Geoff Wallis & Sue Wilson - The Rough Guide To Irish Music

Sarah’s voice is both as warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac.
Sarah’s voice is both as warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac. Enhanced by Gerry O’Beirne’s sparse, but atmospheric production, ‘When A Man’s In Love’ (a nineteenth-century ‘night-visiting’ song learned from Seán Corcoran) becomes a sensuous spine-tingler, while her guitar playing throughout should be a lesson to anyone unconvinced of the instrument’s role in traditional music. An astonishing debut by a unique talent.

Joe Breen – The Irish Times

This is a thoughtful, skilful and occasionally sombre collection.
This is a thoughtful, skilful and occasionally sombre collection.... McQuaid is an accomplished guitarist whose rich style sits well with the intricacies of traditional music. She has done her homework in other areas as well, notably in her research and particularly in her vocal style. Producer Gerry O’Beirne, no slouch himself in the guitarist ranks, serves McQuaid well in her stated aim of giving the music room to breathe, while other guests like Niamh Parsons (for a fine female version of ‘The Parting Glass’), Trevor Hutchinson and John McSherry help make this a debut to note.

Colm O’Hare – Hot Press

An understated, well-crafted and assured collection.
People who are familiar with Sarah’s writing in Hot Press will know that she is both knowledgeable and passionate about folk and traditional music. Her intelligence is matched by a warm, velvet-tinged voice and a distinctive acoustic guitar style which mark her out as a significant talent.... Sparsely produced, generally with a minimum of instrumental adornment, the tunes live and breathe naturally, while the vocals – cloaked in just the right amount of reverb – complete the overall effect, which is wistful and melancholic.... An understated, well-crafted and assured collection.

Andy Ryan – Irish Music Magazine

One for a romantic evening in, listen to it with a hot whiskey and a peat fire –
Boy, hasn’t Sarah got a good voice – rich, deep, mature. Shown at its best on the jazz-influenced ‘Johnny Lad’, great movement between octaves and stylish use of breathing add a sexy dynamic. One for a romantic evening in, listen to it with a hot whiskey and a peat fire – heaven!

A fabulous singer, reminiscent of June Tabor in her dark voice, but also a remar
A new name to me, but one to definitely follow in the future. A fabulous singer, reminiscent of June Tabor in her dark voice, but also a remarkably talented guitarist. Born in Spain and raised in America, she conveys Irish music with love, but also an objective eye that’s not above slowing down a reel to bring out its subtleties. Her version of ‘When A Man’s In Love’, with Gerry O’Beirne’s National offering an almost Indian feel, is nothing less than pure velvet, while her track with Niamh Parsons, ‘The Parting Glass’, is a showcase for two glorious voices.... All in all, this is quite a revelation, and even guest names like Trevor Hutchinson and John McSherry don’t divert the spotlight from McQuaid. One of the best Irish albums to travel down the pike in a long time.

Feargal McKay –

For my money, this was a beautiful disc.
Sean-nós star Iarla Ó Lionaird is credited profusely for his assistance, particularly on the track ‘Táim Cortha ó Bheith im’ Aonar im’ Luí’, which has verses sung both as gaeilge agus as bearla. It is from another Cuil Aodh native, Peadar Ó Riada, that this disc draws some inspiration, particularly in its spartan approach to the musical arrangements, with lots of quiet moments in which the music can live and breathe. For my money, this was a beautiful disc.

John O’Regan – Folk Roots

When Two Lovers Meet is both sparse and withdrawn by effect, but it casts a quie
When Two Lovers Meet is both sparse and withdrawn by effect, but it casts a quietly lingering spell.

marco scarpa

so fine!
Truly pure and fine, intense and deep! You'll just find her soul and her great style in singing and playing: a very importsant little jewel in your musical collection!

Mary o'keefe

when two lovers meet
this is a super song and beautifully done
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