Cabbage - Gaelic Storm
In hawking Cabbage, Gaelic Storm has hardly turned over a new leaf. Now seven studio albums deep by my reckoning, the Irish cum Californians have developed green thumbs for planting musical seeds and reaping a bounty of flavorful favorites. The ingredients remain essentially unchanged, starting with a light-hearted look at life spun into a great deal of playful malarkey delivered with panache by vocalist, Patrick Murphy. Guitarist and singer, Steve Twigger sums up, “As the world has gotten darker, people have come and found us as a means to escape.” The usual pub fair is a menu that Gaelic Storm rightly sticks too and long time fans will be chuffed from Murphy’s opening words, “I was raised on black and tans” onwards. Random fiddly bits of what sounds like onstage jamming gives the listener the impression he/she has just walked in on session. Twigger explains, “We are first and foremost a live band. We got together to play music. To enjoy ourselves and enjoy being out with the audience.” The principal songwriter of the group, Twigger steps up to the mic more often on Cabbage than on past outings, delivering the carnie tale of Cyclone McClusky, an ode to regret called Just Ran Out Of Whiskey and the fascinating historical oversight of the press ganged Irishmen who ended up as white slaves in Barbados or ‘Red Legs’ as they were known. Great stuff! That leaves Patrick Murphy, always the jester, to regale us with the reason there are no Irish astronauts on Space Race and to sing his unflagging adoration and caution towards the ultimate Irish femme fatale with Green Eyes, Red Hair (and long legs of course). This one’s a keeper for sure! But, personally, I more and more have come to admire the instrumental de rigor of the band when they, as they have on many occasions, shut their gobs and play us a tune. With his hybrid kit of hand drums and assorted beat keepers, Ryan Lacey has continually been a propulsive force in Gaelic Storm. With the vocals on stand-by, piper, Peter Purvis (a Canuck import) and petite violinist, Jessie Burns (a female fiddler has become almost mandatory in contemporary Celtic) take flight on some of the album’s most memorable moments like Blind Monkey, Jimmy’s Bucket and a musical movement that unravels without a word. The Buzzards of Bourbon Street began with a bachelor party in New Orleans that lead to nefarious mischief, missing wallets and the inevitable confrontation with the authorities. Listening with the story in mind is a hell of a lot more fun than watching Hangover 2. It’s also refreshing to see a band put so much thought into packaging these days. By refolding the liner sleeve different ways, you can always enjoy a brand new look to your same old Cabbage.