Paul Creane & the Changing Band,
The Clock
(CB Records, 2014)

The first album from Ireland's Paul Creane & the Changing Band, Tommy Black & the Twelve Days of Lucy (which I reviewed in these pages on 2 September 2012) turned out to be my favorite album from 2012. Now, Creane and the band is back with The Clock, and even if it's still February at this writing, I can safely say you're not going to find a better album this year.

A self-described Americana-folk-country rock band with a traditional Irish influence, the Changing Band is in no one's pocket; these musicians are no one but themselves. The band's sound is built around Creane's rhythm guitar, with Footsy Byrne's banjo and dobro right up front. Horns and strings decorate some of the songs here. And Creane's voice, as gruff and soulful as a prophet's propelling the songs. Creane has one of the finest voices in Irish music today. He can launch an uptempo song with power or can growl a ballad with so much pain that you believe he won't be able to make it through to the end without breaking down.

As far as perceived influences go, however, I hear a touch of the '70s Nitty Gritty Dirt Band -- not the Dirt Band that chased top-10 country hits, but the earlier version who helped invent Americana music. This comes from the way the banjo and mandolin drive uptempo rock songs, where you wouldn't expect to hear them at all and the level of imagination in the songs and the arrangements. I also hear some of the great Irish folkies and singer-songwriters, most mostly I hear Paul Creane and the Changing Band, an outfit that can play anything from straight ahead bluegrass to folk music to rock ballads with equal skill and grace.

The truth if it is simple: Paul Creane & the Changing Band is the best thing to come out of Ireland since Jameson's.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 July 2014

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