Mary Byrne – Mine & Yours
Dubliner Mary Byrne’s debut album is very much an X Factor record. Having performed admirably on last winter’s instalment of the show (mostly thanks to Irish votes), “Tesco Mary” has released her first ever album, just in time for Mother’s Day. (P.S. If you’re reading this and wondering when Mother’s Day is, it was last Sunday, so your own dear mum isn’t going to be too pleased with you!)
From the cover of the album to the music inside, as well as the lyrics booklet (why does a covers record need a lyrics booklet?), Mine & Yours is a very polished, but very safe production. Just like Mary on the show, who sang the same song two or three times at various stages, there are no risks taken here. Anyone who has seen her on television will know exactly what to expect. Standards accompanied by a big voice. But not one as good as Susan Boyle’s.
Opener ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ is carried over from the show, as are many of the twelve tunes here. They’re the best parts of the album, probably because of the familiarity with Byrne. We know exactly what to expect. So if you bought this album, those are the tracks you’ll want to hear. And why not throw in a Westlife cover for good measure? Sure Louis Walsh is still looking after both her and himself after all. It is undoubtedly the worst song on here though.
With a voice as big and strong as Mary’s, some of the song choices are weak, however. The short staccato vocal verses of The Beatles/George Harrison’s ‘Something’ don’t suit Mary’s bellowing vocals, as it’s far too restrained. I know an album of twelve belters would sound samey, but it kept Byrne on the show as far as the semi-final, so isn’t that exactly what her fans want? Her take on ‘Galileo’ by Declan O’Rourke is nice, and it’ll put a few clubcard points in his pocket, but again, it’s totally wrong for this album. Nice isn’t good enough.
It’s the big, well-known numbers that work best, and no surprise but ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ is the standout, while ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’ and ‘All I Want Is You’ are other strong covers. However, overall, it’s a very patchy debut album. I know Mary has a lot of fans out there who’ll lap up this record, but with a voice as strong as hers, this rush-job does her no favours in the long-run. Maybe she’ll get the songs she deserves second time around.