This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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About two seconds after placing this release into the CD
player, the 'SL experience' kicks in--that being the high-spirited,
sweeping sound that is the trademark of Shilelagh Law. This
is a group that liberally dispenses both fun AND entertainment (not that the two are mutually exclusive), a
veritable testosterone-addled glee club that captures the essence of
celtic music. Their sound animates some into motion, others to
reflection, AND their words provoke painful tears and raucous laughter.
Sometimes within the same song.
Shilelagh Law has also mastered the art of pacing, whereby a
member performs a solo segment but is soon joined mid-song or chorus by
all. Or a slow pace gets punched up as everyone jumps in to create a
wall of sound.
On this release, there is a mix of new compositions along with the traditional. And some of the new sounds traditional.
The title cut, "Good Intentions," is the opener. With warp
speed fiddle backing, a wastrel's tale is told. He tries but his
efforts are all for naught, whether it be his Catholic school primer
experience, an attempt at house painting or maintaining a relationship.
"Broad Black Brimmer," related to the struggles for Irish
independence, is a wonderful traditional song unheard before by these
ears. Other cuts with such a connection are the rousing pair of "Here
We Go" and "Boys Of '98," although these are brand spanking new
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is not necessarily celtic-related. More
a song of reflection. it is a look back at the nourishing sustenance of true
The group revives "Finnegan's Wake," admonishing that
it's not over when the fat lady sings but only when the casket is in the
ground. A version of Eric Bogle's "Green Fields Of France"
leaves the listener recalling that famous line "war, what is it good for?" from the Edwin
Starr-performed song "War."
The traditional "Wild Mountain Thyme" is also buffed up once again and the group provides a touching rendition.
The jaunty "Meet Me On McLean" depicts the emigrants of the Irish
diaspora meeting up and having a good time in New York City, as does
"When New York Was Irish."
The twin odes to drink, "Whiskey You're The Devil" and "Jug Of Punch," close out the release.
Moments of exuberance, compellingly-presented history, the twins of love and loss, Shilelagh Law segues from point to point on the spectrum of human experience. As one local public broadcasting station promotes its offerings, this release is time well spent.Shilelagh Law is composed of Terence Brennan on percussion and vocals; Stephen Gardner on bass and vocals; Denis McCarthy on fiddle, tin whistle, piano, mandolin and vocals; and Richard Popovoc on vocals, guitar and banjo. On this release, they are accompanied by Kevin McCarthy on accordion and vocals.
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