Traditional Irish Music
There is no denying that the tight combo that is The Yanks lacks nothing in the way of energy or vitality. The infectious lift that they bring to their music is becoming somewhat distinctive. To have “a sound” is a good thing and they have it. For this, their second recording they have gone for a double album with 22 tracks. They open the album delicately enough with a bright set that includes The Trip to Boston/Hanley's Tweed/Fred Finn’s. By the 6th track you have a raw and gripping The Rainy Day/Miss Mary McMahon of Ballinahinch which is played with the edginess of a train about to derail. In truth many sets have this quality, springing to life as they hit full steam. A more delicate guitar infused version of Kitty Lie Over and a swaying Humours of Tullycrine balance the affair. Port na bPucaí which has turned up on a number of albums this year is given a great solo piping rendition and other slower numbers like Felix’s Waltz have texture and emotion befitting such a lovely melody, and a tribute to a great musician. The inclusion of two songs by Eamon O'Leary and Jefferson Hamer, better known as the Murphy Beds is a masterstroke of a partnership that may introduce the idea of a cross pollination of groups on recording. They retain their sound even with support from the wider group.
For a relatively new band to consider a 22 track second album must indeed have been a big decision. I had thoughts of shifting through the tracks to possibly identify some weaker filler tracks but that proved futile. Only the dancehall inspired saxophone driven set of If There Weren't Any Women in the World seemed out of place. I generally find with double albums that the arc of the recording can get lost and the distinctive beginning, middle and end start to blur into a continuum without peak or trough. To a certain extent that is true here as well. The upside to this is the pure quality of the music that they deliver and the variety of sounds they unearth. The accordion of Dan on The New Century is so low key it could have been recorded on an iPhone and it is this approach and its respect for the strength of the tune that speaks volumes about their approach to the music.
The Yanks could in truth be described as a less clean cut type of group. You don’t get an overly polished final product, as is their desire. It’s more live, raw and real and the hope would be that they retain that component to their music because they are without doubt America’s best traditional musical export in a very long time. I am old enough to remember the words “The Yanks are coming” from the hayfields of my early years. Well on Haymaker the Yanks have arrived. This is a big recording that has an abundance of both high energy and reflective music. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
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