If you like traditional music played in a nontraditional manner than you need to take a look at Sgian Dubh, a rocking band based out of Georgia. With a wide range of musical backgrounds stretching from rock, country, bluegrass, Celtic, punk and folk, Sgian Dubh delivers a unique interpretation of some of the traditional songs we’ve come to know and love. On their latest album, “Frightening All the Dogs,” they focus on many pub favorites as well as capturing some of their enormous energy on two additional cuts recorded from one of their live shows.
Two of my favorite songs on the album are Leaving of Liverpool and Rocky Road to Dublin. In both cases, these songs do not stray too far from many of the traditional versions one can hear, but instead are given slight alterations in tempo and instrumentations that give the songs an incredibly fresh sound. For example, many times Leaving of Liverpool is played slowly to highlight the sadness of leaving a loved one, but here Sgian Dubh ups the tempo just slightly – giving it more of a feel of hopefulness that the lovers will in truth be reunited. Likewise, Rocky Road to Dublin is simply arranged in more of a rock manner that is sure to please. Other traditional songs on the album are Wild Rover, Johnny Jump Up, Whiskey You’re the Devil, and a medley of John Ryans Polka/ Hills of Connemara/I’ll Tell Me Ma.
Additionally, on the album is an original of there’s written by Bruce Roberts, their percussionist and whistle player, entitled Mariner’s Lament; a folk-rock fusion tune highlighting the dangers of the sea and the sailors’ vulnerability on the open water. While the mix is a little muddy at points, it is still a pleasant song to listen to with a driving rhythmic beat and the energetic vocals of Susan Cates.
Overall, the album is well worth a listen and with two wonderful live tracks added on at the end you can’t go wrong.
Artist: Sgian Dubh
Album: Frightening All the Dogs
Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.