Lee’s Listening Stack: Three Fine Musical Brews For St. Paddy’s Day Week
A veteran band of hard working, hard rocking journeymen, Young Dubliners’ trademark Celtic rock belies the fact that this talented quintet have few familial ties to the Emerald Isles. Nevertheless, their boisterous delivery and ringing refrains convey the kind of passion and purpose worthy of a band comprised of native sons. Like Big Country, They incorporate traditional sounds into their rock ‘n’ roll regimen, with songs like ”We The Mighty,” “Say Anything” and “The Deep” suggesting the fiery approximation of pipes, whistles and bagpipes even though in reality they lack the latter. Flush with attitude, edge and amplitude, the Young Dubliners maintain the spirit of revelry and rebellion that’s such an essential element in the Irish mindset. Think Big Country with an occasional big ballad like the lovely “Only You & Me.” Either way, there’s a larger than life ambiance accompanying Nine -9-NAOI, one that suggests that these Young Dubliners continue to mature exceptionally well.
Most people tend to think of Gaelic music as rousing and upbeat. However, there’s a loftier side to those sounds as well, manifest in gentle ballads and songs about the emerald green environs. The Gloaming, a new super group of sorts, glides towards a majestic symphonic sound with sprawling instrumental airs and the kind of sublime balladry that transports the listener to other worlds far, far away. Slower of pace and more meditative in reflection, songs such as “Freedom/Saoirse,” “The Girl Who Broke My HEart” and “Opening Set” are dewey laments sure to soften even the hardest heart. Fiddle, guitar and piano provide the sole instrumental accoutrements, but the effect is often symphonic in scope,and these lilting airs, combined with Iarla O Lionard’s rich tenor leave a stirring impression. Consider this one of the most dramatic debuts to cross the pond in recent months. Utterly lovely indeed.
Of all the bands that have mined their Celtic roots, Black 47 may be the most consistent. After 25 years of plying their craft in their native New York, these musical transplants have decided to call it a day, going out in style with the appropriately dubbed Last Call. True to form, they don’t exit with a whimper but with a shout, and the result is a set of rousing, rocking anthems that are true to their signature sound. Pipes, flutes and tin whistle affirm that air of authenticity, but make no mistake; this is one combustible combo and the music herein – driving, defiant and determined — is as intoxicating as a few pints at the pub. Surprisingly, they aren’t held to one regimen; the music varies from rock to reggae, world music in the truest sense (check out “Salsa O’Keefe” for example), all of it imbued with their traditional Irish brew. Larry Kirwan’s trademark growl — and howl — is the glue that holds it all together, proving all the while that he is indeed a rocker of Springsteen-esque proportions. Likewise, when they touch on social issues — as with the pro-immigration rallying cry of “Let The People In” — he and the band prove worthy of champion-proven stature. Last Call is an album that lives up to their legacy, and ample evidence that Black 47 will indeed be missed.