Album Title – The Barleyjuice Irish Collection
This double CD is a large collection of 32 songs! It is well worth the money because of that alone. Once you listen to this Irish CD you will understand Philadelphia’s own Barleyjuice more, if you don’t know them already. I have never seen them in concert myself, but will as soon as possible since this Barleyjuice CD was a delightful surprise to my ears.
The songs on this Irish collection reminded me of an Celtic gathering with all the necessary drinking, dancing and shouting. Some of the songs even have shouting and laughing in the background to get you in the mood. You can tell the singers and musicians had a lot of fun doing these numbers.
I would describe this music as having “heavy” vocalization with the instruments taking a background to the lyrics and the singers voices. Don’t expect any show-offs on the instruments as that is not the essence of Barleyjuice. There are a few instrumentals but they are short in length. This is the kind of music you expect to hear at a quaint Irish pub that has beer soaked wooden floors, tin ceilings and a lot of zealous people clapping.
You will hear varying vocal styles with different members doing the lead singing. According to the CD jacket the singers are Billy Dominick, Kyf Brewer, Eric Worthington, Gregor Schroeder and Swanny, which leaves only one member not listed as a vocalist! I am not sure who is considered the lead vocalist, if anyone. Expect the songs to sound different as different members take the lead vocals, although most of the songs are sung in a “rowdy Irish drinking” style or that well known contemplative “tragic Irish life” style.
Don’t confuse Barleyjuice music with the type of punk-ish party songs coming from Flogging Molly or the Dropkick Murphys. This is more of the old fashioned style with many old Irish favorites appearing on this Irish CD. Barleyjuice does a marvelous rendition of several of the old familiar tunes. This is quite frankly good old fashioned Irish singing tunes, done through some enthusiastic singers. I felt like getting up and doing a polka on more than one occasion. This would be good live music for certain.
Barleyjuice Similarities and Influences
Barleyjuice is not the most technologically sophisticated music or Irish group you will hear, but they are really enjoyable to listen to. I caught myself tapping my toe on many occasions, and thinking of getting a beer out of the refrigerator or a shot of whiskey from the cabinet, especially during the song “Nancy Whiskey.”
I was reminded of the Waterboys on several songs and on others a slightly less noisy version of Flogging Molly. They posses similarities to those other groups but impart their own unique Irish style which I found to be well done. I was pleasantly surprised. One of the singers reminded me very much of the raspy lead singer of the Pogues from long ago. There was a song or two that reminded me of zydeco (listen to “Celtic Girl”). Others could have been on a Warren Zevon album. I was hearing all kinds of similarities on “The Barleyjuice Irish Collection.”
This 2 CD set will give anyone, Irish or not, a lot of listening pleasure and is a recommended purchase for your collection if you are looking for the old standbys, that are well done. I could have used a little more bagpipes in some of the songs, as I am a fan of that instrument. Don’t expect a lot of any one instrument, since the singing takes the forefront. Barleyjuice knows how to bring out the Irish in anyone. This really isn’t your “same old thing” type of Irish music that you might be expecting. Get your whiskey or beer ready and have a listen today.
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