Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Not for everyone, lovely to me.
on February 1, 2005
OK. Let's get something straight here--this album is not for everyone (notice the header). It's not even for everyone who loves Scots-Irish traditional music. Not that anything is.
For instance: If you want some pretty traditional purely accoustic music, this is not for you. Go seek Solas' earlier works--Sunny Days and Scattered Showers, for instance. Solas have for a while been undergoing a transition process and this appears to be the latest incarnation of that. It's not traditional by any stretch of the imagination. It attempts (and succeeds, i believe) to fulfill the promise made by so many bands over the years but so rarely kept - a mature union of rock and Scots-Irish traditional music. It borrows tunes from modern songwriters like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and makes them sound very contemporary yet very much a part of the old tradition, like a new song turned into an old song masquerading as a new song. Think fiddles and accordians and electric guitars and synthesizers. Think Riverdance with PMS. Think Wolfstone.
Similarly, if you're really into upbeat music, i wouldn't look for it here. This album...well, it's not exactly "Black as the Night are my Roses", but it's certainly not cheery. The general mood is more like those days when you stand by the window, watching the twilight deepen and feeling inexplicably pensive. Black Annis touches on concerns about child abuse. Dignity and The Poison Jester's Mask feel like sharp commentaries on modern culture. Darkness, Darkness is an ode to oblivion. The instrumentals, while full of Solas' usual bounce and whirl, are almost entirely in minor keys.
If you have a deep appreciation for both rock and Scots-Irish traditional, however, you'll probably find something here to stir your soul. I could laud the musical talents of these folks, but the genius of the band is that Winifred Horan and Seamus Egan found a way to surround themselves with friendly performers as talented as they are; the result is a tight, seamless, take-no-prisoners sort of corporate sound. Beck Street drives forward like a mad dash through the narrowest city alleyways. Who's in the What Now has a synchopated grace that keeps me perpetually off balance. Georgia Lee is stunning in its simplicity. And Darkness, Darkness...let's face it--the Youngbloods never had it so good.
My best advice is to listen to at least one clip of instrumental and at least one clip of vocal music from this album, if you can--you'll know from that if you like it. This is the kind of work most fans of Scots-Irish traditional either love or hate; it's too bold a step to be in between.