- 03 Sep 19
Second album from folksters with Damien Dempsey connection.
There have been many attempts to fuse rock and traditional music over the decades, from Horslips to the Dropkick Murphys, some more successful than others. Indeed the term “Celtic Rock” has some pretty shudder-inducing connotations, and can still cause many a music writer to break out in a cold sweat. Thankfully, Last Star Fall – the second album from Dublin collective Black Bank Folk – makes the marriage of rock and folk seem the most natural pairing in the world. Nowhere is this more evident than on album opener ‘Come To Me’, where a chorus of folk singers, lilting uilleann pipes and thumping drums combine to powerful effect.
Black Bank Folk came to prominence with their 2016 debut, Rising, a concept album about the events in the GPO a century before – two of the band, John (bass, guitar, vocals) and Mark Colbert (drums) are grand-nephews of executed rebel leader, Con Colbert. The brothers are also veterans of the Irish music scene, having played with everyone from Jerry Fish to Damien Dempsey – the latter lending his inimitable vocal talents to ‘Hope Springs Eternal’. The same tune features Gavin Glass on harmonium and piano, with Glass also engineering and producing the LP. Aside from the star turns, the musicianship throughout is exquisite, including Sinéad Hussey’s spirited fiddle (particularly effective on ‘Washed Away’), and Seán McKeon’s magnificent uilleann pipes.
Vocalist James Sheeran explores some pretty dark themes in his lyrics, covering topics as diverse as mental health and the Middle East refugee crisis. And yet, despite the often harrowing subject matter, Last Star Fall is not a bleak album. Sheer quality.