They Don't Know Any Better, Bless Their Hearts
Sunday Night Journal — December 9, 2007

Music of the Week — December 9, 2007

Solas: The Edge of Silence

This is a very good album, and I feel slightly churlish for not liking it more than I do. Solas is an Irish group that, at least on this album, does a sort of pop/Celtic crossover thing in the tradition of Clannad. And I’d predict that anyone who likes Clannad will like Solas. The level of musicianship here is extremely high, and any reservation I have about it has more to do with me than with the band: Celtic music is just not my favorite style. A few jigs and reels go a long way with me, which is not exactly reasonable, since I can listen to the blues, a more monotonous form, all night long.

Like Clannad, Solas has a female lead singer. I’m not extremely enthusiastic about her, but, again, I think that’s more a matter of my personal taste than any defect on her part: her voice is technically flawless and fits the band’s style and the material very well; it’s just, to my taste, somewhat on the pale side.

I’d be more enthusiastic if I liked all the material as well as I do the two or three songs that knock me out. Chief among these is the first track, which is the one containing the phrase which is the album’s title: a cover of the Jesse Colin Young classic “Darkness, Darkness.” It’s a great song, and this arrangement is at least as good as, and maybe better than, the Youngbloods’ original. If you don’t know this song, you probably should. There are also covers of songs by Nick Drake (“Clothes of Sand”) and Tom Waits (“Georgia Lee”), which are good although maybe not quite as striking as the originals (although those who can’t take Waits’s growl may prefer this version). There’s a relatively obscure Dylan song, “Dignity,” which in my opinion deserves its relative obscurity, but the band does as well by it as anyone could. There are two intriguing songs by a young writer named Antje Duvekot which maybe show more promise than achievement but are definitely worth hearing.

If you aren’t familiar with Solas but like Clannad and others in that vein, by all means check them out. You can hear thirty-second samples at the album’s eMusic page.



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