Eight long years we had to wait for the new studio album from Barry McCabe. He released his last output "The Peace Within" in 1998, a CD which garnished praise from more than just the music experts. Barry calls his music Celtic-Blues. To take his music to the world, the man works hard and anyone who has seen him live on stage is riveted on his energetic show.
This just released album appears to be a bit mellower. What amazed me a bit was the fact that there are no uilleann pipes on it because in the past this instrument played a big part in Barry McCabe’s sound. But Barry is of the opinion that this disc should sound different and he didn’t want repeat himself. It seems that he’s made the right choice as the new CD is proving to be very successful already. The album is picking up lots of airplay in Ireland, in fact more then any of his other CD’s already.
U2’s production manager had this to say about the CD: “Now listening to the album for the third time. No doubt, this is your most mature work to date. "Trouble" blew my mind. If I close my eyes I think this is what Horslips could have sounded like if they had kept going, but they didn't and you did, and have produced a cracker of a song. "The Sunset Waltz" is a masterpiece. "Catch me if you can", "Rollin", "In the dead of Night", all excellent. If the Stones at this stage of their career produced songs of this quality, they would be hailed as geniuses.
Those are strong words, so let’s listen to this opus a little closer.
The first track "Johnny Nobody" kicks things off in style. A catchy guitar-riff introduces the song and rocks in typical Barry McCabe fashion. However this song is an exception on the album. The next song "In The Dead Of Night" is a mid-tempo number that has a real Peter Green vibe off it. It is augmented by some very sensitive keyboard work. The booklet doesn’t say who’s playing the keyboards. The sound and the style of playing suggest that it’s Peter van Bogart.
The ballad "Crazy Love" opens with organ and harmonica. Some tender piano playing and Barry’s brilliant singing further enriches the song. Yes, Barry manages to do what in actual fact seems impossible: to better Mr Morrison’s expressive singing.
"Catch Me If You Can" is one of three instrumental tracks that breathes Irishness and to me they have to be among the highlights of the CD. The accordion, which is played by Joe Marsh, is a very nice addition. "Trouble" consists of a sluggish groove and some awesome organ playing. I like the guitar solo at the end of the song very much.
"Arthur" is the second instrumental on the disc, played with just acoustic guitar and harmonica. Very emotional! Words would probably have got in the way. Close your eyes and you can just see the gentle green landscapes of Ireland. Suddenly one gets itchy feet.
Another song that is very soulful is "I Wonder". Again the song is accompanied skilfully by Hammond organ. Here’s where Barry’s voice really comes into it’s own.
The song "Rollin’" gets us rocking again and it’s a very good song. Special mention should be given to the harmonica here, which is probably played by Mark Feltham, who is a special guest on this album. For those of you who don’t know, Mark Feltham played with Rory Gallagher for many years and now plays with Nine Below Zero.
The song "Lonely Road" quietens things down a little again. A very nice guitar solo makes this song very special. Feelings were written in capital letters on this album.
The same is true of the following song "Bye Bye Johnny-Be Good" - that shouldn’t be confused with the classic by Chuck Berry - because both songs have nothing in common except the title.
The instrumental "The Sunset Waltz" completes the CD, which is another example of Barry McCabe’s strong connection with his Irish roots. Again acoustic guitar and harmonica suffice to execute a fine track.
All in all, the entire album is very good, very emotional and soulful. For me personally I’d have liked a few more rocking tracks. That would have mixed the CD up a bit more. Be that as it may, without doubt I can recommend this disc to all those who are interested in Celtic-Blues and I don’t want to exclude people who like to broaden their horizon.