- 07 Feb 20
More Songs Of Dawn And Dust
On this their sixth album, the Navan-Omagh axis of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland have all but perfected the unique brand of Irish-Americana gothic they’ve been chiselling away at since 2008.
Although recorded with Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier and War On Drugs engineer Daniel Schlett over five days in Brooklyn, the music would seem more suited to the Arizona locale of their previous album. The gently strummed acoustic guitars and lonesome harmonica that reoccur throughout, or the pedal steel that keens with love and longing behind ‘Medicine Wine’, speak of wide-screen vistas rather than city streets. The album is cinematic in feel, the instrumentation recalling Dylan’s soundtrack to Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (‘Six Mile Cross’ – actually a spot in McCausland’s Tyrone rather than some imagined byway where Henry McCarty put another notch on his pistol in the Lincoln County War) and a touch of Ry Cooder’s work on Paris, Texas. ‘Ash Wednesday’ and the closing ‘Glens of Gortin’ are the kind of things that used to play before or after someone took a bullet for Sergio Leone, and even the possibly eco-bemoaning ‘After The Fire’ sounds like it should have wild horses running around in slow motion, somewhere in the background.
Garnier’s bass on ‘Hope Machine’ evokes his work on Tom Waits’ Raindogs, and Waits would surely appreciate both that song’s Farfisa organ stabs, and the spooky, Flannery O’Connor resignation in ‘Venus’ – it sounds ominous from its first banjoed note and, sure enough, the narrator has “learned to smile as I make my kill.” It’s a song that Robert Plant might borrow should he ever decide to follow up on Raising Sand. There are feint mariachi horns – the tear-to-a-glass eye middle-eight in the gorgeously Glen Campbelly ‘After The Rain’ – as well as distant fiddles, and the kind of hushed, close-harmonies vocals you used to find on those grown-up Everly Brothers records, all marking this out as music for sipping tequila to on a veranda as the sun goes down, although be careful not to spill anything when the drums kick in during ‘Wilderness.’
The Lost Brothers have talked this up as their Irish album, the result of spending some time at home after more than a decade of near-constant road work, and indeed locations in both Tyrone and Meath are mentioned, most notably the River Boyne in the beautiful opener ‘Fugitive Moon’, but this album couldn’t be more of its type if it starred Robert Mitchum and was shot in Cinemascope. Their best record yet.