Irish Rock Album Solas is this The Answer
Do not confuse the title with anything maritime! Solas is Irish Gaelic for Light, not the acronym – Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). With that clarified what about the music on their seventh studio album Solas? If you expect Rock with a loud shout you will be disappointed. If you want light-rock fused with roots of Irish folk, lyrics that curl around with melodic intensity you are in the right listening zone.
The Answer, have taken one helluva musical journey over the ten years since the debut album Rise with its blues-infused rock. Now on Solas the exploration of their Gaelic heritage in the musical tone and lyrical shaping full of misty mysticism, fear of the dark, hidden regrets and the light of hope is apparent.
Opening with the title track with a wave of sound or percussion that feels like a wave, James Heatley’s relentless drumming is the backdrop for Cormac Neeson’s vocals. The chorus is melodic full of Celtic harmonies flowing as the music takes you deep into the soul of the band, their experiences and reflecting the light of Solas. The guitar work is huge as the number closes with a lead break that promises much from Paul Mahon. Rock firmly rooted in the traditional shapes Beautiful World with its captivating opening chords full of Eastern promise. That opens up with instrumentation with the energy of rock contained to be played at eight, not eleven. The result is the lyrics dominate and it is the voice that is the main instrument, with Micky Water’s bass, along with the guitar and drums playing a supporting role filling in the gaps acting as lead breaks for the words.
Yes, now three tracks in this Irish-infused rock harnessing tones and textures from the folk tradition. The Answer, on Solas have a story to be told and heard. The ballad Battle Cry, this will be fantastic live as the audience picks up the chorus and lifts the spirits of all hearing the music. This is Irish folk-rock that fills the heart with melodic joy as Gaelic merges with the English. Half-way through Thief of Light takes us with mandolin and Celtic harmonious riffs far away with a reflective sound, that reminds us that sometimes we need to start again as if the dark is to be conquered and energy regained.
Then, a change of musical shape with Being Begotten as we head to a blues-infused Southern Swamp leaving the emerald-green of Irishness. This blues-infused feel reflecting their debut album Rise is found again with Southern-rock Demon Driven Man, with a rock n’ roll upbeat feel upfront and full of energy.
The three bonus tracks have an acoustic feel In This Land, Light In The Darkness both full of folk-inspired chords and structure and then a fuzzy reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Money.
The Answer on Solas deliver reflective rock, light and at times whimsical not something to play loud and hard but to sit and enjoy. Reflecting the turmoil of life and the need to go back to their roots and bring pure Irish gold into their rock. This is Rock that has a gentler edge softened by the winds of time and gives you space to reflect before cranking up the volume with a rock offering from a different part of The Answer’s journey or someone else in your collection.
That said Solas definitely has a place in your rock collection bridging rock with tradition. It is an album you will return to and on every occasion, your appreciation of the subtleties will grow as you hear more of the clever lyrics missed on the last outing.
The Answer – Solas – Napalm Records
NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….
- Beautiful World
- Battle Cry
- Untrue Colour
- In This Land
- Thief Of Light
- Being Begotten
- Left Me Standing
- Demon Driven Man
- Real Life Dreamers
- In This Land
- Light In Darkness
- Money (Pink Floyd Cover)