‘Modern Blues’ is half a step away from Waterboys’ folk-ish sound we’ve been used to, but it’s a rather pleasant album with some very nice songs.
1. Destinies Entwined 2. November Tale 3. Still A Freak 4. I Can See Elvis 5. The Girl Who Slept For Scotland 6. Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy) 7. Beautiful Now 8. Nearest Thing To Hip 9. Long Strange Golden Road
Release Date: 19 January 2015 Label: Puck Records Tracks To Notice: Destinies Entwined, Long Strange Golden Road
Some years ago I had read somewhere on the web that Mike Scott is one of the British artists that’s closest to Neil Young. His eleventh album with The Waterboys comes to confirm this little hypothesis, at least up to the specific point this is feasible. Scotch songwriter with long time partner, fiddler, Steve Wickham and a couple of newer members established themselves in Nashville to record this album and the historic city has played its part in the result.
Title seems fitting as ‘Modern Blues‘ is like an uncertain approach to blues stuffed with the country influence imposed by the area at which it was recorded. All that from (mainly) one man that was bred into and is an important part of British folk (-rock) scene. One of the songs that mixes all the above is ‘November Tale‘, that has a less violin than piano, played by Paul Brown. The same more or less holds for ‘Still A Freak‘ with its steady drum tempo and a guitar solo towards the end. Right after those two, ‘I Can See Elvis‘ comes to namecheck Lennon (pictured doing handstands), Marvin Gaye and a few others, including Plato and Joan of Arc who are “talking philosophy and law” with The King. It’s like ‘The Return Of Jimmy Hendrix‘ from ‘Dream Harder‘ (1993) with another protagonist and slightly different approach.
Influences from USA can be noticed in other songs as well. ‘Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy)‘ is like Bruce Springsteen meeting “classic rock”, or at least the side of it that he hasn’t really served all those years. Could it be just the title that forced The Boss in my mind? ‘Nearest Thing To Hip‘ is one of the richest in sounds, having even a bit of a trumpet here and there and as soon as the song ends a spoken word part of Jack Kerouac‘s ‘One The Road‘ comes in. This small parenthesis mostly serves as an intro to long but great ‘Long Strange Golden Road‘ that follows. “Keep the river on your sight and the highway at your shoulder” Scott sings, accompanied by guitar and drums in a song that could finish halfway, though it’d probably lose some of its beauty.
Album kicks off with its best track, ‘Destinies Entwined‘, that is going to be added to their long list of successes. There might be plenty inspirations from the western part of the Atlantic, but there are some exceptions to that, as expected. ‘Beautiful Now‘ could have been released twenty years ago and be one of britpop’s lesser hits, while ‘The Girl Who Slept For Scotland‘, apart from its title, stands out more for the little story it narrates than its music.
‘Modern Blues‘ is half a step away from Waterboys‘ folk-ish sound we’ve been used to, but it’s a rather pleasant album with some very nice songs. Mike Scott is still more than able to craft beautiful little tunes and the fact fiddle isn’t the main thing here shouldn’t be daunting for Scotch band’s fans.