Cua “Oh Sun Shine Down”

Independent, 2022

Irish folk music for the 21st Century with world music flavourings.

Irish music has had a profound influence on world music due to the size of the Irish diaspora. Coming closer to Ireland itself, the popularity of The Dubliners and The Chieftains in the ‘60s helped popularise modern-day Irish music which really took off in the ‘70s with everyone from Thin Lizzie and Horslips, to Planxty and on to The Pogues in the ‘80s. This process has continued into the 21St Century with Cua, a vocal trio comprising John Davidson, Shane Booth, and Ros O’Meara whose vocals invoke Crosby, Stills & Nash. This mix of Irish heritage with a modern sheen invoked memories of Irish folk duo Tír na nÓg from the early ‘70s who were contemporaries of Nick Drake and Fairport Convention, and who achieved a degree of critical acclaim and coverage in the media. ‘Oh Sun Shine Down’ is Cua’s third full-length album, and it is also unsurprisingly their pandemic album which provided them with the opportunity to introduce new and fuller sounds to their core offering.

Your attention is grabbed immediately by the harmony vocals on the title track ‘Oh Sun Shine Down’ with its positive lyrics and bouncy tune, with fiddle and bouzouki clear in the mix. Fiddle is to the fore on the single ‘Sunrise’ which with its hoedown feel reminds everyone of the level of influence Irish music had on the music of Appalachia. If anyone thought they knew what the latest music from Cua would sound like the next track is a bit of a jolt, not because of any musical dissonance, but because of the East European and vaguely Arabic influences of the instrumental ‘Guiser’s Fancy’. Fiddle is again a key feature of ‘Beautiful’ but the surprise here is that rhythm transports us to Kingston, Jamaica, with the reggae undertones. ‘Celebrations’ is not so much world but new age music but livens up as the drums kick in. The metaphor of the sun is again front and centre on ‘Come On You And Shine’ which has a lively percussive feel and a spoken-word interlude. Piano opens ‘No Sequel’ and the vocals maintain the sense of solemnity throughout this track.  We are back in pure traditional folk territory with ‘If I Should Find Myself’ which is clear evidence of Cua’s understanding of traditional Irish music. The closing track is the nearly nine-minute long ‘Sail  Home With Me’ with its cinematic sound.

Like many artists, the pandemic gave Cua the opportunity to review and expand their sound on ‘Oh Sun Shine Down’, and this may also make their music more appealing to potential new fans, while still staying true to their Irish folk roots.  Nearly fifty years ago, Tír na nÓg expanded their sound on their third album, 1973’s ‘Strong In The Sun’, which became their best-known recording before they disbanded in 1974. Time will tell what happens to Cua in the future, but they have successfully expanded their sound on what is their strongest album to date. If you like Irish folk with some world rhythms and the occasional new age wash of sound then ‘Oh Sun Shine Down’ is definitely worth listening to.


About Martin Johnson 387 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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