Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Edge of Silence
Genres: Folk, World Music, New Age, Pop
In this era of disposable, singles-driven albums it's refreshing to encounter an album meant to be experienced as a whole rather than as a mere collection of tracks. Solas, already acclaimed by many as the most exciting Ir... more »
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In this era of disposable, singles-driven albums it's refreshing to encounter an album meant to be experienced as a whole rather than as a mere collection of tracks. Solas, already acclaimed by many as the most exciting Irish traditional group in the world, has broken new ground with their fifth album, The Edge Of Silence. They interpret a wide range of material in surprising ways; songs by contemporary artists are given a Celtic tinge, making explicit their connections with the deep, ultimately Celtic roots of American music. The Edge Of Silence is a moody, noir-ish song cycle with a cinematic feel. Solas weaves together a fascinating body of material including songs by Bob Dylan (the obscure gem "Dignity"), Tom Waits, Nick Drake and Jesse Colin Young of The Youngbloods. Also part of the mix are two striking songs by extraordinary new songwriting talent Antje Duvekot, as well as traditionally-rooted original compositions. It all adds up to a seamless and powerful evoking of elemental life forces--love, death, and the unquenchable human spirit. The Edge Of Silence is produced by Grammy-winning producer Neil Dorfsman and Solas' leader Seamus Egan. Dorfsman has produced artists such as Sting, Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits, Bruce Hornsby and Paul McCartney.
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A Shocking Disappointment
wysewomon | Paonia, CO United States | 03/15/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In the past few years, Solas has gone from being one of my favourite Irish bands to being at the bottom of the heap, and this album is a poignant example of all the reasons why. Their first three albums featured great tunes and songs with stunning arrangements and virtuosity, both vocal and instrumental, that is seldom equalled. _The Edge of Silence_, however, offers none of those things. With its release, Solas has completed their transformation from sensational Irish band to mediocre pop group. Now, I'm not one of those Celtic Music purists who has a spasm when a favourite group adds a drumkit or explores a different path. I really like the places that artists like Capercaille and Eileen Ivers have taken the music. So it's not just the fact that Solas has gone in a much different direction that bothers me. It's the fact that they didn't do it very well. When I listened to this album, I was bored.Even on _The Hour Before the Dawn_ I didn't much like Dierdre Scanlan's vocals. Here they are even more limp and unappealing than they were there. I am not much of a fan of singer-songwriters either, and as every song was a cover of something in this genre they really didn't do anything for me. Seamus Egan's legendary instrumentals, where they even appear, are so over-produced and awash in studio effects that they are painful to listen to. A lot of Celtic bands who take the fusion path make the mistake of mixing their CDs like rock CDs, with the rhythm section drowning out the melody lines. I wouldn't have expected Solas to do this, but they did, and it was a real disservice to what might otherwise have been an interesting progression.I can certainly understand a band's desire to do something different and not be chained to a previous sound, but it's a shocking disappointment to see so much talent wasted on a travesty like this. _The Edge of Silence_ is the kind of CD that makes you wonder what the band thought they were accomplishing. Skip it."
mr_fishscales | Rochester, New York | 10/15/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I tend to like bands that embellish the arrangements, add exotic instrumentation and generally mess with traditional forms, but Solas is headed in the wrong direction. Their arrangements recall the sentimental mush of Southern California country-rock of the late 1970s and and the wonderful bounce of Irish rhythm is replaced with leaden thudding that perhaps represents an effort to achieve solemnity. Their addition of bass and drums is boringly rock-based rather than referring to a more world-music sound. The use of a synthesizer is quite unimaginative, serving only as a short-cut to adding sonic bulk to the overall sound.I don't have any problem with an ostensibly Celtic band covering pop tunes. The Bothy Band and Planxty were covering Bob Dylan in the 70s. Old Blind Dogs does a wonderfully haunting cover of Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown" on the Legacy CD. Whirligig covers the B-52s credibly, for Pete's sake. But Solas's arrangement of Dylan's "Dignity" just lies there and the song seems to go on and on. I find their taste in singer-songwriters to be all over the place. Nick Drake ("Clothes of Sand") is, of course wonderful (albeit trendy now), but this Antje Duvekot ("Black Annis" and "Poisonjester's Mask") reminds me of Stevie Nicks and that is NOT a good thing (sorry Martha).This is Win Horan and Seamus Egan's band, so I will hold them responsible for this drift toward adult contemporary dreck. Especially after hearing the new Win Horan solo CD. Good Celtic music has bite, drive, menace, and melancholy. The only thing that Solas has left is the melancholy and even that is more melodrama than truly moving. They have become slick and mannered, which is very disspiriting when you compare this CD to their earlier work. I am beginning to believe that Karan Casey was the soul of the band. Her solo CD ("And the Wind Begins to Sing") is gorgeous. The departure of John Doyle has not helped matters either. His own solo album sticks to fairly traditional territory, but his work with Eileen Ivers explores popularization in a different way. Whereas the post-Doyle Solas employs pop music devices in an attempt to evoke some sort of seriousness-in-capital-letters, Eileen Ivers just wants to rock out. Ivers' is going in the wrong direction by heading for Vegas. Solas is going in the wrong direction by heading for LA.This is not to say that The Edge of Silence is not worth listening to. Standout songs include the aforementioned "Clothes of Sand", sung beautifully by Mick McCauley, the accordion player, of all people. Deirdre Scanlan's rendering of Jesse Colin Young's "Darkess, Darkness" is haunting and was even better at a recent concert than it is on the CD. Of the tunes I find Egan's "Who's In What Now" and McCauley's "Beck Street" to be the most compelling. As much as I like Win Horan as a fiddler, I find her compositions to be too influenced by shop-worn pop conventions."
Not for everyone, lovely to me.
small drakka | Hither and yon, USA | 02/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"OK. Let's get something straight here--this album is not for everyone (notice the header). It's not even for everyone who loves Scots-Irish traditional music. Not that anything is.
For instance: If you want some pretty traditional purely accoustic music, this is not for you. Go seek Solas' earlier works--Sunny Days and Scattered Showers, for instance. Solas have for a while been undergoing a transition process and this appears to be the latest incarnation of that. It's not traditional by any stretch of the imagination. It attempts (and succeeds, i believe) to fulfill the promise made by so many bands over the years but so rarely kept - a mature union of rock and Scots-Irish traditional music. It borrows tunes from modern songwriters like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and makes them sound very contemporary yet very much a part of the old tradition, like a new song turned into an old song masquerading as a new song. Think fiddles and accordians and electric guitars and synthesizers. Think Riverdance with PMS. Think Wolfstone.
Similarly, if you're really into upbeat music, i wouldn't look for it here. This album...well, it's not exactly "Black as the Night are my Roses", but it's certainly not cheery. The general mood is more like those days when you stand by the window, watching the twilight deepen and feeling inexplicably pensive. Black Annis touches on concerns about child abuse. Dignity and The Poison Jester's Mask feel like sharp commentaries on modern culture. Darkness, Darkness is an ode to oblivion. The instrumentals, while full of Solas' usual bounce and whirl, are almost entirely in minor keys.
If you have a deep appreciation for both rock and Scots-Irish traditional, however, you'll probably find something here to stir your soul. I could laud the musical talents of these folks, but the genius of the band is that Winifred Horan and Seamus Egan found a way to surround themselves with friendly performers as talented as they are; the result is a tight, seamless, take-no-prisoners sort of corporate sound. Beck Street drives forward like a mad dash through the narrowest city alleyways. Who's in the What Now has a synchopated grace that keeps me perpetually off balance. Georgia Lee is stunning in its simplicity. And Darkness, Darkness...let's face it--the Youngbloods never had it so good.
My best advice is to listen to at least one clip of instrumental and at least one clip of vocal music from this album, if you can--you'll know from that if you like it. This is the kind of work most fans of Scots-Irish traditional either love or hate; it's too bold a step to be in between."