Personnel: Maura O'Connell (vocals); Bela Fleck (guitar, banjo); Mark O'Connor (guitar, bass); Russ Barenberg (guitar); Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar); Sam Bush (mandolin, fiddle); David Grisman (mandolin); Jerry douglas (dobro, background vocals); Stuart Duncan (fiddle); Grey Larsen (flute, concertina); Howard Levy (harmonica); Timmothy Britton (Uilleann pipes); John Jarvis (piano); Edgar Meyer (keyboards); Bob Mater (drums, percussion); Tom Roady (percussion); Kathy Chiavola, Tim O'Brien, Jonell Mosser, John Cowan, Nancy Griffith (background vocals).
Recorded at The Nashville Sound Connection, Nashville, Tennessee.
Maura O'Connell's 1989 release HELPLESS HEART marks a break from the traditional Celtic folk of her earlier group, De Danann, which had carried over to her solo debut, 1988's JUST IN TIME. O'Connell recorded HELPLESS HEART in America, with non-traditionalist extraordinaire Bela Fleck producing and adding his inimitable banjo to the varied collection of songs. The results are colored by O'Connell's Irish heritage without being directly attributable to any specific genre or geographical origin. The Paul Brady title track is a winner, as is a cover of Nanci Griffith's "Trouble in the Fields" with Griffith herself providing angelic harmonies. The more American-style, country-influenced "Can't Stop the Girl" and "Western Highway" are an intriguing new direction for O'Connell, one she explored further on her next two albums, A REAL LIFE STORY and BLUE IS THE COLOUR OF HOPE. The poppier pair of tracks by Karla Bonoff, "Isn't It Always Love" and "Only A Fool" are more of an aberration, but a pleasant one.