A Review of the Shilelagh Law CD
"Good Intentions"

"Good Intentions"
by Shilelagh Law

Copyright 2004


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 compositions.

"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 friendship.

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.

* None of these musicians are related to this reviewer but if they happen to land a recording contract laden with riches, then I may lay claim to being a long-lost distant relative in need of a wee stake in the New World. Be forewarned SL...

Track List:

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