The Turning Tide (Compass Records 7-4530-2, 2010)
The Turning Tide is the 2010 release by Solas, which is undoubtedly the finest Irish music band in the United States. Although Solas’ line-up has varied throughout the years, it is still steered by founders Séamus Egan and Winifred Horan and, after more than a decade, the music is still captivating and fresh. Solas’ formula is the same as other Irish or Celtic music bands: a collection of fiery instrumentals and ballads with outstanding vocals.
What sets Solas apart is that they add an American feel, specially in recent years, to the music by including newgrass and contemporary acoustic improvisation. Most of the material performed are original pieces by members of the band: Seamus Egan, Winifred Horan, and Eamon McElholm. Even though the music is new, it is so good and has such a strong foundation in traditional music that the pieces sound like traditional classics. I suspect that in the future some of the excellent material composed by Solas will become popular Irish traditional standards.
The songs on The Turning Tide have an ongoing theme of social commentary. Multi-instrumentalist and founding member Seamus Egan explains: “We’re not trying to preach or make a general statement about the world, it just happens to be the kind of material the individuals in the band have gravitated towards.”
In addition to its original material, The Turning Tide includes fascinating versions of Josh Ritter’s ‘Girl The War’, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’, Richard Thompson’s ‘Poor Ditching Boy’ and Scottish folk-singer Karine Polwart’s ‘Sorry.’
The current line-up Solas includes American and Irish musicians: Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistle, guitar and bodhran), Winifred Horan (fiddle), Mick McAuley (accordion and concertina), Eamon McElholm (guitar and keyboards) and vocalist Mairead Phelan. Joining the band in the studio session this time are some of Solas’ old friends: Ben Wittman on drums and percussion, Chico Huff on bass, harpist Catriona McKay, and percussionist John Anthony.
The Turning Tide shows the creative excellence of one of the greatest exponents of the current Irish music scene.
Buy The Turning Tide