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Shilelagh Law - Together in the end (Shilelagh)

I approached this CD with much trepidation, it should come as no surprise that the idea of an Irish-American trad band wouldn't exactly be my thing. Bands like Raglan Road or the Dropkick Murphys mix up elements of trad with rock and punk, having far more in common with the Pogues than the Chieftains, but it's obvious from the tracklisting that Shilelagh Law aren't one of these. Kicking off with a fairly bland version of 'Irish Rover', it doesn't seem quite as bad as it could be, it's the kind of thing you'd hear in any old bar in Ireland and not a patch on the rousing Pogues version. It gets worse with a truly dreadful take on a fairly awful drinking song, 'The Pioneer', this is the kind of shite anyone in Dublin will recognise if they've ever had the misfortune of hearing what they play in Carroll's on Westmoreland Street.

Thankfully, it gets better with 'Christmas in New York', their 11 September tribute, which is thankfully has a strong American folk influence, it's basically a singer with a guitar with some trad elements added in, kind of like David Gray with an American accent and some traditional musicians joining in. If they were to concentrate on recording this kind of stuff rather than the hackneyed auld Oirish rubbish, then they might be worth checking out.

However, it all goes really bad with their version of 'Celtic Symphony', an awful Wolfe Tones track as it is, but for fuck's sake, how can anyone follow an 11 September tribute with a song that features the line 'Ooh ah up the 'RA' over and over again? If this was a live show, I would be walking out at this stage, as it's a CD, I'm not listening to anymore. This is dumb, tribalistic, Irish-American crap; it's bad enough when the likes of the Dublin City Ramblers come out with this rubbish in Ireland, it's even worse when a crowd of New Yorkers release it. Grow up.

Donnacha DeLong

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