BETWEEN THE MOUNTAIN
AND THE MOON
The artist has bloomed with this new album, the first where he says he has felt comfortable enough to do a full studio recording. This is his first original album since “Salty Heaven” in 1999, although fans greatly appreciated “Keeper of the Flame,” last year’s deeply personal cover of his favorite classic and contemporary songs and songwriters. Who will ever forget his slow, soulful rendering of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”? On this album, Sinead O’Connor came to add her remarkable voice to one song, and ended up contributing to several on the album. Luka’s nephew Connor Byrne gives a subtle flute counterpoint to these songs. Bar None Records, (516) 536-7572 or www.bar-none.com.
VERA OF LAS VEGAS
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Taco Bell and Dumdum Devlin, ex-IRA men, have found themselves in the airport in Las Vegas with Vera, apparently a lapdancer, and two men in hot pursuit, who might be from the RUC. Flight attendants sing in chorus, providing a running commentary on this obscure buffoonery — a very strange world it is. This “nightmare cabaret opera” by Northern Irish-born poet Paul Muldoon continues his blending of Midwestern U.S. “civilization” and the Troubles, which he did effectively with his long poem in “Quoof,” “The More a Man Has the More a Man Wants.” For fans of Muldoon, this is a worthy addition to his growing body of work. Others may find it unrelentingly obscure. The Gallery Press. 53 pp. $9.
MY DREAM OF YOU
Following on the success of the memoir “Are You Somebody?” O’Faolain tackles themes of passion and human connection in what is her first novel, which is now released in paperback. Two women are introduced to the reader, whose lives span a century and a half. The central character, Kathleen de Burca, is a travel writer who has lived her career on the move. She finally returns to Ireland to confront her troubles childhood and turbulent heritage. O’Faolain draws an actual historical event into her narrative at this point, the Talbot Affair of the 1850s, when the wife of a British landlord has an illicit affair with an Irish servant, leading to a highly publicized divorce. A rich and complex read. Riverhead Books. 529 pp. $14.
IRELAND’S LOVE PEOMS
Edited by A. Norman Jeffares
Poetry has been marked by the unique contributions of Irish poets through the centuries. Love poetry in particular is a rich vein. This is a stirring and heady collection that incorporates some of the most well-known Irish poets — Heaney, Yeats, Kavanagh, Wilde — with other less recognizable voices. Ballads and ancient bardic voices offer an intense immediacy, though they speak to us from across many centuries. There is an even balance between male and female voices as well. Love themes stem from courtly love to obsession and dark passions, from affection to idolatry.
W.W. Norton. 353 pp. $24.95.