Self Released (label)
01 December 2017 (released)
06 December 2017
The Eskies return with their raucously eclectic second album, And Don't Spare The Horses.
Across 11 tracks the band brings a boundless energy as well as a willingness to take melodic risks. The promotional material for the Irish outfit describes their sound as “gypsy folk”, but the LP unashamedly expands into other genres.
During a brisk 40 minutes the listener can expect to take in the joys of folk, blues, big band, and Rock. Lead producer, Gavin Glass (Billy Bragg) manages to mix the melange seamlessly.
‘All Good Men’ gets proceedings off to a raucous start, before ‘I’m Not Sorry’ bullishly enters the fray. Lead singer Ian Birmingham, Strikes up a sarcastically irreverent tone. A relationship has gone awry, but he’s not taking the blame. Even the bobbin backing beat feels as if it’s poking fun at the songs muse.
The no-nonsense start thematically sets up an album that is keen to talk of, love, betrayal, and loss. The ever-bountiful oasis of story opportunities is put to good use, in the pleasingly minimalist ‘Building up Walls’. Here we find a weary protagonist consigned to defeat in his efforts to salvage a battered and bruised romance.
“Oh you’re building up walls and my catapult is broken”, the vocalist, mournfully sings in the acoustic number.
‘Death To the sentry’ also proves to be a rich vein for poignant and effective lyricism. The tale chronicles a soldier’s duty to continue the fight even as his own thoughts test his resolve.
As Birmingham sings of, roaring cannons, the devilish foe growing ever closer, and, restless memories, his voice carries with it just the right amount of resigned sorrow and steely determination to make the piece work.
The band support their lyrics well producing several melodic highlights along the way. ‘I’d Rather Be Lonely’ sounds like a wanna-be show tune. A big trumpet sound and plodding drums lends the melodramatic lyrics a sense of levity.
Bandmates vocal backing is of great value to the project throughout, but particularly on the call to action, ‘Napoleon’ as they help bring extra depth to the track.
Overall, And Don’t Spare the Horses is a welcome next chapter in The Eskies discography. Lyrics are enjoyable, and the mash of musical genres doesn’t miss a beat.