"Cooking Up The Storm"

Down on the farm Larissa Tormey is cooking up a storm. The ingredients are novel to the music scene, Irish country with a Russian flavour. The recipe is going down a treat, writes Michael Commins

Cowgirls Don’t Cry is the third album from Larissa, the Russian opera singer who met a Westmeath bachelor at a party night in Moscow. From Russia with Love weaved its own spell and the girl who had hardly a word of English back then is now fluent in the language and very much at home on the farm in Kilbeggan.

Larissa is delighted with the response to her latest album, which was produced by Peter Ware in the UK. The blend is good and warm, with a healthy sprinkling of country classics, some newer songs and two traditional Irish songs that have charmed hearts around the world.

Danny Boy has been covered by some of the best-known names in show business history, including Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby and Judith Durham and The Seekers, but never before (to our knowledge) has it been sung with such beauty in both English and Russian as by Larissa.

The gentle beauty of her native language lends a special mystique to this rendition and you don’t have to understand a word to know that something special is happening here. Music truly is the language of the soul.

“I am amazed at the response to Danny Boy,” says Larissa. “People have different views on their other favourite songs on my new album, but they all seem to like my version of Danny Boy. It is wonderful that people here in Ireland like me singing this song so well. They certainly do like the Russian flavour to it and I am so happy about that.”

Larissa has also included I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen on the album.

This is another beautiful song with a melody that suits my voice and style of singing. I love it and I had to put it on the album. Such has been the response to these two songs that Larissa is thinking of choosing material for a folk-orientated album.

“Some people feel my voice is especially suited to folk music and it is an avenue that I might go down for my next album. “Folk music crosses all boundaries and I feel I would be very comfortable singing folk songs too,” says Larissa.

Country music dominates the rest of the new album, with a delightful re-working of the John Denver song that has now some fresh lyrics courtesy of Peter Ware and Larissa, and appears as the bouncy Thank God I’m A Country Girl.

Other well-known songs include Rambling Man, Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool, When You’re Not A Dream, Cowgirls Don’t Cry and Yellow Roses.

The story of the Russian opera singer who ended up living on a farm in the Irish midlands and singing Irish country music continues to fascinate many around the country.

By Michael Commins 19 May 2018

Larissa Tormey