The 19th Street Band – Diamond in the Rough

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins

The 19th Street Band are an Irish band who have nailed their own blend of authentic sounding hi-energy Country Western Swing.  The four piece, playing a host of instruments between them, recorded in Silver Spring Maryland and Clonmel Tipperary Ireland manage to sound like a Celtic Acoustic Orchestra.  “I Just Had To Say” opens with a frantic protest folk rock strum, before Meghan Davis’ sweet mandolin pulls it into infectious Western Swing with tight harmonies, but that tension and energy remains.  Razor sharp harmonies and playing with edge and attack until Davis’ spacey violin takes it somewhere else in this upbeat love song.  Caolaidhe Davis’ twanging guitar and a sublime brass arrangement make the opening of “Nothing To Do (All Day To Do It)” a delight.  Again The 19th Street Band are masters of a bouncing dance middle section and heavenly slower passages all carried by soulful and tight vocal performances.  This is millimetre tight, soulful, smile on the face music.  “Firefly” has a whiff of Klezmer and strutting vaudeville music hall.  The lyrics and delivery have a little bite this time, but the harmonies sweeten it as does the sublime guitar and instrumental ending.  “Hillbilly Boy” is a raw, earworm of a song, so infectious and natural, you are convinced it’s a cover or a standard, not a Davis composition.  Tongue in cheek, moonshine infused chorus and a beat that gets in your marrow with another feel good songs. “Away From Our Happy Home” is a train song, the percussive guitars, drums and brushes patter out the rhythm of the rails and the voices and violin are the distant prairie train whistle on this melancholic love song.  “True Love” is carried by Caolaidhe’s huge guitar, the sweetest harmonies outside The Eagles and a chorus refrain that nods to The Chemical Brothers “Hey Girl Hey Boy”.  I guess dance music is dance music as love is examined and unpicked. “The Cajun Rock and Roll Stanza” is a John Prince Philip Donnelly composition.  Carried by the rhythm section of Greg Hardin and Patty Dougherty the band’s Celtic Cajun Country sound gains a little classic American songbook, a touch of The Band or Little Feat’s dirty gumbo.  “Your Love Is Like The Lone Ranger” is another Prine Donnelly composition with a left field lyric and Meghan summoning the Bluegrass spirit of Dolly in a fine vocal performance.  This is the weird alt country of The Handsome Family with a a crowd pleasing bounce, Celtic Swing not Western Swing is very much a thing.