Monday, November 30, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 60: Irish Descendants

The next Disc on the CD Odyssey is the third consecutive entry from Canada. Yeehaw!

Disc 60 is...Look To The Sea

Artist: The Irish Descendants

Year of Release: 1993

How I Came To Know It: I heard "Last of the Great Whales" on CMT (Country Music Television). CMT is mostly bad, but once in a while they throw on some good Canadian folk music, and I caught it. The song was on this album so I went and bought it shortly thereafter.

How It Stacks Up: I have 5 Irish Descendants albums, and this is the first one I bought. I'd say it is #2 on my list, but it is pretty close to #1.

Rating: 3 stars.

Irish Descendants are straight-ahead, no-frills Canadian folk music, with the Celtic bent common to the Maritimes and Newfoundland.

These guys were four unattractive, out of shape guys who played great music. I couldn't find a good picture of the album cover, so I just found a photo of a bunch of them that captures their general down home look.

What they lack in style, they make up for in their ability to play and sing and write good folk music. This album is about half of their original stuff, and the other half traditional songs that they have arranged. Both are good.

Not unlike Cypress Hill, the Irish Descendants like to sing about a very short range of topics. However, instead of smokin' dope, killin' folks, and scorin' girls, the Irish Descendants stick more to Gettin' Drunk, Goin' fishin' and Hankerin' for Gals. You'd be surprised how different the results are.

This particular album is an old favourite, that I probably overplayed a little in the day, and so it doesn't make it into heavy rotation anymore. I love the sound of the mandolins and the celtic drum and the general "rolling" feeling that makes you think of the sea and coastal communities. Growing up on the coast in BC gives me an affinity for the other side of the country, and I hope one day to go to Newfoundland and explore her natural beauty (and maybe visit a traditional pub or two).

Some of these sea shanties are rollicking, like "Rollin' of the Sea" and some are sombre like "Go To Sea No More", and the Irish Descendants can sing both equally well. The humorous tracks like "Useta Love Her" are suitably humorous, despite the atrocious spelling, and the album overall is a good time.

There are certainly moments where the lyrics turn maudlin and knock you out of the moment, and there are places where they go for grandiose, but come off sounding a little bit like that fat dude who reads the news in the "Rome" miniseries. These moments are rare though, and they mostly hit the right mood for each song.

If you like folk music, this album is worth your money. If you don't like folk music, I wouldn't start here - it is pretty solidly in that movement. Ease in, my friends. Ease in. Before you know it, you'll be buying the Capercaillie boxed set and this album will seem like pop radio.

Best tracks: Rollin' Of the Sea, Useta Love Her, Fisherman's Song

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