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    The Waterboys

    An Appointment With Mr Yeats 9 ( 2011 )
    The Hosting Of The Shee / Song Of The Wandering Aengus / News For The Delphic Oracle / A Full Moon In March / Sweet Dancer / White Birds / The Lake Isle Of Innisfree / Mad As The Mist And Snow / Before The World Was Made / September 1913 / An Irish Airman Foresees His Death / Politics / Let The Earth Bear Witness / The Faery's Last Song

    The Waterboys have been around in one form or another since 1983 and are now essentially Mike Scott and his touring band, although I believe Steve Wickham, long term fiddle player, is still present - the initial Waterboys dissolved sometime in the early nineties. 'An Appointment With My Yeats' is a project close to the heart of Mike Scott, something in his mind for quite some time and the album has developed from a very well received theatre show setting the poems of W B Yeats to music. Now, these are proper folk/pop/rock songs, there's nothing that requires an intense appreciation of poetry, you've just got these wonderfully crafted words set to music by Mike Scott. His voice by the way sounds much the same as it did twenty years ago and he's also joined here by a female voice, new Irish singer Kate Kim, whom Scott discovered singing in a club. So, the first Waterboys album proper in four years arrives and does it really have any expectations surrounding it? The Waterboys stock as a studio act has been, after all, pretty low for around ten years or so now. Well? Thankfull, the album is a massive, welcome surprise. It's not quite a bolt out of the blue, because anyone with more than a passing interest in music knows about Mike Scott. Still, this album is passionate, finely rounded, naturally has wonderful lyrics and the band sound full and lively.

    The album opens dramatically, the first and third songs being close cousins, soundscapes and full of loud atmosphere. The volume further increases for 'A Full Moon In March', which almost resembles a song by the Who, at least in terms of the enjoyable racket The Waterboys make. 'Sweet Dancer' then arrives at the perfect time, a sweet pop song full of yearning, melody and memorability. It's no 'Fisherman's Blues' but it cements this opening third of the album together. It reminds you and pleads with you to keep listening, that the entire album won't be all straining at the leash and intellectual and serious. 'White Birds' reminds you just how clever and adept Mike Scott has been adapting these poems to music. Nothing sounds like it was forced into a particular place to fit a melody, rather the words having suggested melody, as it should be with all good poetry, which generally has a rhythm of its own. 'The Lake Isle Of Innisfree' reveals the strong influence of recent Bob Dylan albums, the stunning 'Mad As The Mist And Snow' sees a full return to 'The Big Music' with the rock fiddle of Steve Wickman much to the fore.

    The strong songs continue, 'Politics' being unlikely in that it's one of the most melodic, finely honed songs here. Unlikely? Well, songs called things like 'Politics' often don't have attractive enough music to supplement the words. This does, and the final two tracks are arguably the best of all. Good albums should have enough to sustain a listener to the end, and reward them. 'Let The Earth Bear Witness' is simply one of the most emotionally affecting songs Mike Scott has ever written, it's got an absolutely heartbreaking melody and perfectly pitched vocal. 'They shall be remembered forever, they shall be alive forever'. He sings forever properly too. It's a word with a huge pull on the heartstrings if sung and done properly. Suffice to say, this is done properly. At times, the song reminds me of REM. REM could only wish for a song this good right about now. And, the closing 'The Faery's Last Song' reminds everyone of why The Waterboys were so highly thought of in the late eighties, early nineties. Mike Scott wanted to do this project justice, admitted to himself he had to create some of the best music of his career and some of the best performances, choose his musicians carefully. He has done. It's nothing less than one of the albums of the year.

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    this page last updated 18/09/11

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