Review: Young Dubliners

Young Dubliners
(Om Town / Higher Octave Music)

On their latest release, “Absolutely,” the Young Dubliners have taken all the pieces that make their live shows so exciting and captured the vibe and excitement in the studio. Founder and lead vocalist Keith Roberts credits producer John Wooler (John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, The Staple Singers) for catching the Young Dubliner’s live essence on “Absolutely” by insisting on a live studio performance. “The goal was to capture the band’s live energy, but also have a production vibe that would stand up to radio,” says Wooler. “It was only a matter of getting the band in a decent-sized room and trying to cut the tracks live. The Dubliners have a great deal of personality in their sound and all I had to do was capture that. It worked really well.”

“Absolutely” is a triumph both musically and lyrically. It’s also the first album ever written by the entire band – Keith Roberts (lead vocals, guitar), Brendan Holmes (bass, acoustic guitar), Bob Boulding (electric guitar, harmonies) David Ingraham (drums) Chaz Waltz (violin, keyboards, mandolin, harp) – instead of one or two people. Keith told me, “Everyone was on the same page this time and we had a lot of fun and we put this album together in two weeks.”

The album is full of contradiction between music and lyrics on many songs. A good example is “Low” (track 4). The music is fairly upbeat with a TINY bit of a country sound added to the rock and Celtic, but the lyrics are extremely serious including spousal abuse, drugs and extreme anger. “Scream,” (track 3) is a ballad, but to scream is to let out your frustrations and feel better. “Fan” (track 9) is upbeat musically, but the lyrics are complex and serious about an obsessed fan. These track remind you the band tackles social problems in their music, instead of avoiding them.

All the songs on the album are great. Some of the tracks are just fun (“Unreel,” “Knickers,” “Brown Dog,” “Ooh La La,” and “Jump In The Sea”), while others are rousing, touching or a serious bent (“Salvation,” “Come On,” “These Days” and “Name”). This is a great album from a great band that dares to take rock in a slightly different direction with the Celtic flavor added to the mix.