‘Modern Blues’ marks both a new album with a new rich American sound for The Waterboys. Their first album of all new songs since 2007’s Book of Lightning, it is very welcome release indeed.
Recorded in Nashville with a couple of new band additions, the album’s sound is essentially blues or country-soul and has five or six really top drawer songs, none stronger than opener Destinies Entwined. This is a solid Waterboys rocker and will no doubt become a great song in a live setting, with Mike Scott’s trademark guitar sound propelling things forward, backed up by lovely organ and keyboard lines throughout.
Track two, November Tale, is just as good. This classic Mike Scott tale of love gone slightly awry may be the best song on the album. To be honest these days – for fans of classic rock, singer-songwriter, country-rock or celtic rock – it is rare to find a new release that excites as much as this. That is not to say there isn’t plenty of good new music by younger artists these days (take a look around the site if you don’t believe us), but for a certain coterie this disc will definitely hit the spot.
In this 80th anniversary year for the King, an Elvis tribute song may not be the most original idea, but I Can See Elvis works pretty well, as does The Girl Who Slept For Scotland which is melodically reminiscent of early solo Beatles material.
The album continues on its rootsy way with the spiky bluesy soul classic Still A Freak. The ‘boys even get chart-friendly (for whatever that is worth) with the catchy Beautiful Now.
The weakest song on the album is probably the grumpy The Only Thing That’s Hip. That is a small complaint though on such a strong overall album which finishes with a long opus called Long Strange Golden Road. This is a bit of a risk, but it works, and again like many of these songs, will be a great live workout.
‘Modern Blues’ serves as a reminder of how good rock songwriting and performance can still be, despite a fall from prominence. Roll on the Vicar Street Dublin residency this November.