Album Review: Rise & Shine, Square Pegs

Dublin's finest players make it funky and loose.

It’s a tantalising prospect on paper – a bunch of Dublin’s longest-serving, hardest working and most talented musicians getting together for an album of mainly blues, soul and funk classics. The results are genuinely excellent. No surprises there, you might think – the players are well known to music fans and highly regarded within the industry. They include former Lir man Colm Querney, the ubiquitous Conor Brady on guitar (recently seen in action with The Blades), Frames drummer Graham Hopkins, Justin Carroll on organ and bassist Keith Duffy.

Most of these gems have been heard before in countless guises over the years (there’s a reason they’re called “classics”) and Square Pegs bring them to life – once more with feeling. ‘Cocaine Blues’ – probably best known through Jackson Browne’s late night stoned-out version on Running On Empty – is given a Ricky Nelson-style treatment. They also offer a laidback version of Leiber and Stoller’s ‘Ruby Baby’, another under-heard tune. Meanwhile, ‘Big Legged Woman’ hits a groove that the Neville Brothers (Phil and Gary? – Ed.) would be proud of, with nods to the (criminally forgotten) Average White Band.

The playing is as good as it gets without being showy, while the production is organic, and devoid of studio processing and gimmickry. Springsteen once said that the thing about great songs is that they stay written. These chestnuts are the perfect example: you can never hear them often enough. Excellent stuff.

 

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