Shilelagh Law are a NY-based Irish band and this is their second fill-length release. SL are a damn good band, not too heavy on the “punk” side of the spectrum, which is fine by this critic. A good example of a traditionally based Irish band sans the Clash influence is a rare thing these days. Refreshing. Very refreshing. It’s what I needed to escape the doldrums of yet another “Irish Punk” band.
Their motto is “New York’s Greatest Irish American Pub Band” and pub band is a good way to describe them – I can imagine sitting back listening to these guys in a dark corner, not too worried about much else except drinking and singing along.
The CD itself is a mix of originals and traditionals, with the trads taking up the majority of the disc. Favorites like “The Irish Rover” and “Sean South” are given the SL treatment – top-notch musicianship delivered with the professionalism of a band who should be making waves and taking this group to the next level. I also must mention “The Pioneer” done with enough flair to rival The Wolfe Tones. And THAT is a compliment.
These guys remind me heavily of the Dubliners and the aforementioned ‘Tones- things are kept clean and smooth even when they are sped up. An impressive set of musicians to say the least. These guys don’t rely on feedback or electric wailing’s to get their point across – they do it old school. Also included are two of my all-time favorites – a fine version of the heart-swelling “Fields of Athenry” and their version of “The Rare Auld Times” is one of the better I’ve ever heard – and believe me, the song holds a special place in my heart, so I’ve heard quite a very renderings.
Two originals stand out – a nice tribute to those who were lost on 9/11 in “Christmas in New York.” This one should be a Yuletide favorite. I know it was here in my stereo this season. Another SL original (I believe) is “Together in the End” which is also about 9/11 and is just as powerful: “And the heroes once forgotten are cheered on once again and a nation once divided stands together in the end.”
The disc ends nicely with a perfect version of “Boys of the Old Brigade/A Nation Once Again” which then segues into the ‘hidden’ track with the rebel’s attitude “Back Home in Derry”….”John Folk likes to sell Ben and Jerry’s” indeed. (Just listen to the track.)
All in all, these guys have the talent and fortitude to become big on the scene, and not by use of distortion to cover up mistakes or drunken wailing’s to sound indecipherable. This is done Dubliners style – free and loose, distortionless but with talent, fire and guts to back it up. And that’s all I ask for or need in a damn fine Irish band. Well done.
Review By Sean Holland