An exuberant blast of political folk, Americana and Irish rebel music with a splash of Mr Springsteen You couldn’t call this album gentle, lilting or subtle as it bursts out of the cage with a raft of passionate songs, uplifting tunes and some blasting trumpet. The Midnight Union Band, from Kilkenny, certainly wear their collective hearts on their sleeves as you can hear Neil Young, The Band and The Waterboys come steaming through right here.
Things kick of with a roar and a rattle with I’m Your Leader and a lyric that challenges you to think about what’s really going on in the world as singer/lyricist Shane Joyce declares ‘Forget 9/11- we can’t be blamed for that’ in a voice that recalls Tim Booth with his most passionate voice in James. The trumpet (curtesy of Aidan Kelly) blasts again as Shane rants about the Berlin Wall, Hiroshima and sneeringly sings ‘I’m your leader/ Your lives belong to me.’ Fiery stuff for sure. You only have to read the titles here to feel the militancy come boiling over – Just A Scar, Note To Self, Behind The Truth and Stormy Thought all give a clear steer about where the band are coming from.
There’s a something of a punky ethos at work here but the tunes are wonderful and the playing is passionate and enthusiastic. Now, that’s not to say that this is just one over the top glorious racket – far from it. There are subtleties here in that it’s not all one tempo and we get echoes of the aforementioned greats right across the 12 songs. The passion doesn’t falter though and it’s clear that these guys mean every word. You hear Shane writing directly to our wonderful leaders in Behind The Truth when he declares ‘When are you gonna learn, that we all know what you’re up to/ One day the tables will turn, and you can’t hide behind the truth.’ Likewise People Like You is a blast against complacency with Shane attacking those people who sit around complaining as he spits ‘I can’t understand people like you/ Who close all your eyes and ears/ Even though you know the truth’ castigating those who criticise without offering anything in return. Law Ain’t Justice is yet another steamy and atmospheric song that has Shane’s harmonica blazing through the end.
The rest of the band – Peter Flynn (keyboards), Cian Doolan (guitars), Brian McGrath (bass) and John Wallace (drums) -provide a solid and flexible foundation and deliver a supple and emotional resonance across this album that is certainly one of the highlights of my year. Greg Johnson
“You couldn’t call this album gentle…”
The Midnight Union Band OF LIFE AND LESSER EVILS reviewed, by Greg Johnson
Album Release Tour
Sept Garstang, Lancashire 25th Sept Chapel Arts Centre, Bath 26th Sept South Downs Festival, Sussex 27th Sept Square and Compass, Worth Matraves 29th Sept The Art House Southampton CIC I st Oct Salisbury Arts Centre 2nd Oct Kings Place, London 3rd Oct Embercombe House, Devon SOLD 7th Oct River Cottage Cafe.Axminster 8th Oct The Stables, Milton Keynes
The Midnight Union Band OF LIFE AND LESSER EVILS Photo Gallery
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