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Various Artists - Ruby Sessions (Rubyworks/RMG Chart)

Once upon a time, Ireland was a country that produced great music. Rock bands like Thin Lizzy, U2 and a million more that never quite made it, singer-songwriters like Van Morrison, Paul Brady and Christy Moore, all gave Ireland it's once well-deserved reputation. In recent years, though, a certain Louis (Satan) Walsh has done serious harm to this reputation, more damage than all the Eurovision wins in the world, squeezing out real talent and churning out the blandest pop rubbish.

Thankfully, though, the fight back has started, with Gemma Hayes, Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey and the Thrills leading the charge. The Ruby Sessions, a weekly feature in Doyle's bar in Dublin, have played a massive part in this renaissance, simple unpretentious gigs where musical ability and original compositions are the order of the day.

This CD collects songs from 13 of these acts, mainly acoustic and semi-acoustic from people more interested in writing and playing good songs than pop stardom or breaking musical boundaries. Veterans of Whelan's one and all it would seem, so influences range from old English folkies like Richard Thompson or Bert Jansch (Declan O'Rourke) to the great Irish coulda been of the 90s, Jack L (Keith Moss) or old 4AD type floaty indie pop (Babelfish) to more guitar-based indie (Nina Hynes). There's even a bit of synth-pop from Neosupervital.

Are these the saviours of Irish music? Some of them might be, or maybe all of them will end up like countless others, still playing Dublin bars ten years from now. But it doesn't matter, it is simply great to hear real talent coming out of Ireland again and this CD is a great showcase.

Donnacha DeLong

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