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Saints and Sinners’ Worthy of Both

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Friday, February 27, 2009

If you’re looking for upbeat Irish rock with strong Celtic and alternative influences, look no further than the Young Dubliners’ newest CD, “Saints and Sinners,” released Feb. 2. The Los Angeles-based band’s 2009 LP offers an eclectic mix composed of catchy pop tunes that simply make you want to get up and dance, heart-wrenching traditional Irish ballads, traditional Celtic sounds combined with solid rock and roll, and insightful lyrics. The album also features guest bagpipe player Eric Rigler, most known for his work on the soundtracks for “Braveheart,” “Titanic,” and “Road to Perdition.”

The album opens with its title track, “Saints and Sinners,” a fast-paced pop-rock melody with danceable Celtic violin and distorted guitar sounds, an extremely catchy chorus, and interesting lyrics. “Oh sweet Jesus / Will heaven save us / Lived it hard but you’d hardly blame us / Broke the mold when we stole the show / No regrets if the truth be told.”

“Howaya Girls” is a similarly pop-rockin’ anthem perfect for dancing, but has more of a kitschy hoedown vibe to it with fun bagpipe riffs and a “Wipe Out”-like lead in to the chorus’ charmingly loud Irish vocals. “Rosie” certainly has more rock influences but seems more like a cliché Celtic rock song, especially with the lyrics on the chorus, “Rosie sweet Rosie / Money don’t grow on trees / If I thought for just one sec it did / I’d be down on my bended knee.”

A personal favorite, “Buy You a Life,” has amazing distorted guitar hooks combined with a nostalgic sound on the violins and excellent advice in the chorus’ lyrics: “Don’t live your life like you’re the only one in it / Don’t waste another minute / Thinking about yourself / Open up and throw back / All your covers / Your sisters and your brothers / They’ll buy you a life.”

With a sound akin to a traditional Irish ballad, “In the End” also offers a nostalgic sound with the acoustic guitar as well as very pensive-sounding vocals and poignant lyrics, “Please don’t run don’t turn away / Children’s eyes beg us to stay / This time / No more strangers only a friend / We’ll all go together in the end.”

“Backseat Driver” adds humor to the mix with its high energy and nonsensical lyrics, “Oh no here we go again / It’s the backseat drivers / Going nowhere / Tell you when we’re there / We’re only mindless / Backseat drivers.”

“Saoirse” begins as a traditional Irish dance song with Rigler on bagpipes and upbeat violins, but the well-played electric guitar is quickly thrown into the mix, giving the instrumental more of a rock and roll feel. “(I Don’t Think I’ll) Love Anymore,” like “In the End,” is a heart-wrenching ballad with quieter introspective piano and vocals than the louder Celtic rock anthems towards the beginning of the album.

“My Town” offers a refreshingly positive perspective on the difficult economic times beginning with the inspirational piano and building up to an upbeat chorus with loud vocals and percussion, as well as slightly cliché lyrics, “On and on you look for something more / Lose your will at every closing door / Down down into your darkest blue / Rise up until you shine through.”

The lyrics may be slightly cliché, and the Celtic influences may make the listener believe that they’ve certainly heard the songs before, but Keith Roberts and the band put an interesting spin on each rock anthem and ballad, making the songs unique. The Young Dubliners will be playing a Legends tonight.