Search - Iarla O'Lionaird :: Seven Steps to Mercy

Seven Steps to Mercy
Iarla O'Lionaird
Seven Steps to Mercy
Genres: Folk, World Music, New Age, Pop
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

It's all in the voice, and Iarla O'Lionaird has a remarkably affecting set of pipes. On his first solo album, the Afro Celt Sound System member shows how traditional music can live in a modern context with his sean nos (li...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Iarla O'Lionaird
Title: Seven Steps to Mercy
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Real World
Original Release Date: 1/1/1997
Re-Release Date: 10/21/1997
Genres: Folk, World Music, New Age, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, British & Celtic Folk, Celtic, Europe, British Isles, Celtic New Age
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 017046236829, 724384464721, 0017046236850, 0724384464752

It's all in the voice, and Iarla O'Lionaird has a remarkably affecting set of pipes. On his first solo album, the Afro Celt Sound System member shows how traditional music can live in a modern context with his sean nos (literally "in the old style") singing framed by the loops and ambiences created by himself and producer Michael Brook. It's subtle, and never meant as anything more than a frame for the song and the singing, which truly carry all before them. O'Lionaird has the kind of voice that wraps itself around you and draws you in--even if you don't understand a word of Gaelic. Art and intelligence go hand in hand here, but perhaps the loveliest thing is the sparsest--"Aisling Gheal," recorded when O'Lionaird was just 14, and even then possessed of an obvious vocal power. Beautiful is an overused word, but in the case of this record, there is no more apt description. --Chris Nickson

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CD Reviews

The magic of Sean Nos
Cabir Davis | 06/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I reviewed this brilliant CD in 1999 under the name 'A Music fan from India'. I have pretty much the same good words to say about this CD one year after I reviewed it, and to add, that it is far far better than O'Lionaird's new CD, which is a great album too, by the way.His voice was last heard on the 'Stigmata' soundtrack on the song 'Release' with Sinead O'Connor. That single was recorded with his band Afro Celt Sound System, with whom he still records. The band's website ( will give you more information on Iarla. Meanwhile, here is that very same review I wrote a year ago, and guess what! I mean those words more than ever! Forget what those stuck-up people say about Iarla's music being 'boring'. It is NOT. Its one of the most luscious moments of music making that I've heard in most of my life on this planet.So, here we go : Iarla O'Lionaird may well be best known for his contribution to The Afro Celt Sound System, but this incredible album, released in 1997, shows just why that group scores so high with listeners- it is because each individual component is so gifted. And as one of those components, Iarla (pronounced EAR-la) has crafted a willowy, wafty CD, lead only by the power of his soulful voice. This was never a hit record, and people would never remember it as 'a great classic of our time', but this listener hold it to heart as only the next best album to be released after Enya's "Watermark". It blends in with the styles of Enya, Loreena McKennitt, or even Lisa Gerrard, but lacks what those singers possessed instrumentally. This album is low on instrumentals, high on voice. Using the Celtic Sean Nos , Iarla takes us on a magical journey to his own peaceful private kingdom, one that I personally visited again and again. The last track especially, is one that he sang as a teen, and is deeply moving. Though RealWorld has often come up with 'better' and definitely more musically lush compositions, O'Lionaird's effort is possibly the most inner-light-sparking. I dont know if such a thing could exist, but its what I have felt as I listened to it. Iarla has an admirer for life now, and I wish I could meet up with this excellent singer, just to teach me how his soul has managed to find its' own inherent beauty. A highly highly recommended CD, and another major achievement from Real World and Peter Gabriel"
We Need More Music Like This
Rhee Howard | Germantown, MD United States | 12/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although this CD came out in 1997, I discovered it one month ago while driving late at night and listening to the radio show, Hearts of Space. I generally don't listen to that show, but I love Celtic music, and that night's show was called "Sean Nos," the style of traditional Irish singing which is Iarla O Lionaird's specialty. His voice arrested my attention, and I looked him up on line when I got home. I read the review by listener Kabir Ahamed and thought it rather extravagant in its praise. However, after hearing the CD myself, I find I feel the same way about it. Kabir called it "inner-light-sparking." For me also, this music helps me feel grounded again, and can put me back together when my heart is sore. It has become one of my two or three most treasured CDs. I have sought out everything else available that Iarla has recorded, including the Afro Celt Sound System CDs, the sound track to the movie, I Can Read the Sky, and even a compilation CD called Faith of Our Fathers, Volume 2, which has two tracks in which Iarla sings. I like them all, but this CD is unique. On it Iarla sings in Irish, a capella or with minimal accompaniment, often just a drone. His voice alone communicates so much feeling that I want no other sounds to clutter up the air while he is singing. It is a very intimate experience, as you hear Iarla breathe and feel every consonant and vowel. The CD booklet gives an idea of what each song is about, but understanding the words isn't necessary for this music to access your soul."
Modernized Sean-Nůs
Gwilym | 11/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This album by Iarla Ó Lionaird is a quite delighful modernization of some old sean-nós songs. Iarla's song gives a very good picture of the Irish dialect in Cúil Aodha as well as of the atmosphere of traditional Irish musicAll songs are sung in Irish, which prevents some listeners from understanding them. However, even without understanding the lyrics one will appreciate the fine-tuned songs and ancient feel.Tá an album seo le Iarla Ó Lionaird ana-mhaith ar fad, agus táim á mholadh go hárd. Tá gach amhrán as Gaelainn, canúint Chúil Aodha, agus is álainn ar fad gúth Iarla"