This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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This is New York's greatest Irish-American pub band. At least that's what the masthead reads on the Shilelagh Law web site. Not having sampled the competition, their second release is a largely gratifying collection of old and new--a handful of solid new nuggets mixed with some traditional standbys.
This is an acoustic bar band as advertised, with the energy and swagger to sway both the previously uninterested and the most devoted drinkers (on second thought, such devotees, depending on their current intake, may sway of their own accord).
And, most enjoyably, the band members are not afraid of poking fun at themselves. From the outset, the listener is treated to a robust "live" introduction of this boisterous quartet, followed by the lackluster sound of one fan clapping...intermittently.
"Christmas in N.Y." is the most moving cut, a tale of a first Christmas celebration following the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The shopping is complete, the tree is adorned, but something feels amiss until a prayer is said:
"...So bless New York's Finest, our angels in blueWith primarily soft squeezebox backing, the singing is touching but not overwrought.
For giving us hope and helping us through
And bless New York's Bravest, the FDNY
For giving their sweat and their tears and their lives
Bless all the medics and the troops overseas
Bless the guys in the hardhats removing debris
Bless the everyday people who answered the call
Bless those who gave some and those who gave all..."
This song's New York companion piece is the title cut "Together in the End," which describes the both the experience and the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist acts.
"The Fields of Athenry" gets a more forceful, less melancholy than usual rendition, with a harmony chorus. In an unlikely twining that actually works well as point-counterpoint, it is paired with "Moonshiner," a song that kiboshes matters of the heart simply because it is the drink that matters above all.
"Celtic Symphony," performed with unabashed exuberance, is the perfect singalong song. "Until the Morning Comes" is a celebratory drinking song designed for New Yorkers, near and far.
"Rare Old Times," "Sean South" and "Boys of the Old Brigade/A Nation Once Again" are traditional offerings given very enjoyable renditions. "County Down,"clocking in at just under two minutes, is performed in turbo drive.
Do not approach this release with any expectation of hearing delicate airs. Come to hear about rambunctious drinking, political rebellion, love mostly lost and a touch or two of heart. Who can't have a good time immersed in such variety?
Shilelagh Law consists of Terence Brennan on bodhran, squeezebox, spoons and vocals; Steve Gardner on base, Denis McCarthy on fiddle, tin whistle and vocals and Richard Popovic on vocals and guitar.
P.S. Fiddle player Denis McCarthy just happens to have a brother named Kevin. In the interest of objectivity and good music, it is not I.
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