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Sunday, 4 September 2016



Joanne Cassidy - vocals, flute, whistle, banjo, harp, guitar
Noelene Cosgrove - vocals, fiddle, banjo, guitar
Marty Malone - percussion, drums
Rodney McKinney - double bass
Sean Quinn - mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, vocals

Track Listing:

Hard Luck Town
Space To Roam
The Path To You
Starting Over
Stone In My Shoe
Hydebank Hotel
My Heart Goes Boom
She Said
Nine Lives
One Reason

I'm a privileged man. In recent times, I have had the pleasure of listening to CDs of some amazing Northern Irish musicians and singers, all, so far, quite superb, brimming with talent and showing a positive, creative side to that part of the world that often is reported in negative terms. It has been a faultless list of brilliance. And then, through the post comes Tales of Hard Luck Town by The Dandy Horses and I have to say.........the list of brilliance is still faultless. 

This is a mighty fine album packed with strong lyrics, confident musicians, imaginative arrangements and powerful singing, overflowing with impressive songs to kick your ass (sorry, mother) and melt your heart.

Hard Luck Town is a punchy opener that has energy and zip aplenty. It is a statement of intent that this band means business. The upbeat production contrasts with the subject matter, observational lyrics about booze, violence, bankers, politicians and empty pockets, but it works perfectly. "Looking out my window, there's a world that's often missed......."

Space To Roam starts off with hymnal overtones but picks up the tempo in a song of coming to terms with degrees of loneliness, hope and finding new opportunities.  "My pain is gone, just got to press on, gotta find my space to roam."

The Path To You brought out some yee-haw in me because of its infectious vibrancy and it jogs along assisted enormously by interchanging vocals. It's a song about searching for something better in life and love. "I pray to see the breaking dawn and the path that leads to you."

Starting Over suggests a personal story and certainly tugs at the heartstrings. It is sung beautifully and I reckon, through all the tracks performed live by The Dandy Horses, that it will be (if it isn't already) a showstopper.  "I know home is more than brick and wall, and that brings me some comfort through it all......"

Stone In My Shoe is a 'get the hell ouddahere' relationship break-up song - "You can take all your things when you're leaving, and I hope you take the bad memories too...." There is sadness in the words but a kind of joyous relief in the music. 

Barfly is a been-there-done-that song, getting blitzed and entering that boozy world of blur and fantasy "Just a little bit more, fill it up to the top.......just two more drinks and we'll be fine." It is a singalong, drink-along track full of fizz, gusto and spirit.

As each track finishes, you just want more. Hydebank Hotel is an upbeat track about a down-at-heel world. My Heart Goes Boom tells of attraction, lust and love and is as good a pop song as you are likely to hear. 

She Said is another beautiful, slow song, about troubled relationships and finding solace in the company of close family. The singing is sweet and assured. 

Nine Lives suggests we all have a number of chances and opportunities in life, times when we wait for things to happen and times to make things happen.

One Reason closes the album. It has a soulful, gospel feel to it and it is a very thoughtful way to finish, the right ending to encourage listeners to take a few moments to reflect on a magnificent record.......and then to play it again!

The album is a superb collection of songs about life and love, ups and downs, positives and negatives. There are songs from the heart, songs to stir the soul and songs to encourage much foot-tapping. I loved it.  I have played it a number of times and, like all great albums, each play reveals more and more delicious moments, whether they be instruments played with relish or sensitivity or vocals caressing wonderful lyrics or belting them out to make a point.

The Dandy Horses should be very proud of Tales From Hard Luck Town. It is a gift to music radio and I hope it gets plenty of airplay locally, nationally and internationally.


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