- 01 Jun 21
That Good Old Rockin' Soul
The very great indeed Seafoam Green’s glorious debut album Topanga Mansion really was a joy to behold when it landed back in 2017. Still is, too. The rock n’ roll bump and grind of lead single ‘Down The River’ was enough to convince anyone who heard it, and the first couple of bars of ‘For Something To Say’ which kick off this second album, should do the same. There’s an open G guitar clang, then bass, drums and organ crash in, and the combined voices of Dave O’Grady and Muireann McDermott Long warble about never having been to South Dakota. Later, Muireann sings alone about not wanting to go to Oklahoma “cause all that God scares the Jesus out of me” and there’s a near-perfect guitar solo.
Whatever about ‘Jesus’ and ‘God’, this sounds like a kind of heaven to me. Admittedly, you’d have to share my conviction that rock n’ roll reached its artistic apogee in the 1970s, and we’ve all been fooling ourselves with diminishing returns ever since, but this is surely the only sane point of view, so I’ll assume that you do.
If further proof is required then dig, man, the groovy shuffle that kicks off ‘House On The Hill’ before Dave’s chord and slide takes over. If this doesn’t have you up moving back the furniture to give yourself shape-throwing room then you’re either in the wrong house or on the wrong planet. The guitar drops out, the organ dances in like a child skipping through a puddle, there’s something about someone else wetting your wood, and I have to go off and listen to it again. Is it hip? Is it cool? Is it the new thing? Who gives a monkey’s? It’s one of the singles of the year.
In order to give my dodgy old ticker a fighting chance of seeing tomorrow, they slow things down with ‘Mine All Mine’, one of those country/soul/rock n’ roll ballads seemingly hand-crafted to make you smiley and melancholic at the same time, and this one has a slide guitar solo from that master of glass-on-fret Derek Trucks, perfectly matched by the beautiful piano that plays behind it. The harmonies are rough and smooth at the same time, and both “weed” and “wine” get the nod so who could ask for more?
Everything else rolls just right, Muireann takes over for ‘Maggie’ with that voice which could have you welling up by singing the minutes of a board meeting, there’s a back porch acoustic charm to ‘Whiskey’ with its swirling, Hammond-driven chorus that sounds like something you’ve known and loved for years, and ‘Winter’s Getting Warmer’ rocks like a particularly swampy and ornery bastard.
They show great skill, and an admirable devil-may-care attitude, by both having a go at ‘The Auld Triangle’, and failing to embarrass themselves whilst doing so, and O’Grady is cute enough to sing the closing ‘My Oldest Friend’ to his Ma, just in case he needs a bed the next time he’s home in Inchicore. And, lest Mrs O’Grady be out on the town when her young fella rolls in off the boat, he hedges his bets by giving the Da his own nod in the gentle ‘Working Man’.
The Green have it all. Two albums of great songs that call to mind everyone from The Stones to Delaney & Bonnie, a vocal pairing seemingly handed down from the Mount Olympus of rock n’ soul, and a band that could quite capably fill in for Little Feat if they got stuck in traffic. Surely it can’t be long until the world cops on and tunes in?