Album Review - The Drowsy Lads / Wide Awake

The Drowsy Lads came together in 2003 when brothers Daniel and John McKewen got together with high school friend Bryan Brookes. From there Josh and Phil Franck joined and over the years they built things up, gigging around Columbus and making two albums in the process. This is their third release and they have produced a fine and evenly balanced recording with some genuinely great tracks. They include strong vocals from John that are equally restrained in their approach to songs like Johnny Todd which is a traditional English children's song. Also included are some some strong self compositions like the beautiful mellow composition called Renee, written for the wife of fiddler Phil Franck which they play with Waking Up in Wonderful Wark, a Karen Tweed composition and Seville Suite by Bill Whelan.

With sparkling sets like this and many more besides, you get one very accomplished album from what are an unknown group, in Ireland anyway. The arrangements are fairly well balanced with only percussion on some of the livelier tracks perhaps a bit more full on than may be needed.  On the slower more introspective tracks they get it just right with a very emotive instrumental version of The Lakes of Pontchartrain standing out. They close out the album with a song called Angel Song which is also very strong and includes some great vocal harmonies. The Drowsy Lads understand the beauty of simple and uncluttered music and in the process have delivered an impressive 3rd album. Guests include Doug Rudy on mandolin, Tom Boyer on piano, Mick Broderick on bouzouki and Johnny Franck on vocals. A surprise release and worth checking out.



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Comment by Cindy Funk on December 15, 2015 at 9:11

I've been watching these lads for quite a few years now, and have been thrilled at their playing, live and recorded.  Of course, it helps that Phil Franck is like the Godfather of Irish music in the central Ohio area, having played these many years in several bands around Columbus.  But the lads have learned their lessons well, and all are tight, accomplished players.  What's more, they have a great time together onstage, with an irrepressible joy in the music.  The audience, of course, has a great time too.  It's great to know that this kind of excellence springs from the American heartland.  Keep your eyes on these lads.....

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