Dirty Linen - p.42
"[S]lightly more than half of the tracks on the disc are intricate, melodic tune sets composed by band members, showcasing the virtuosity of multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan, fiddler Winifred Horan, button accordionist Mick McAuley, and guitarist/keyboard player Eamon McElholm."
Few Irish bands that are as deeply rooted in Celtic tradition as Solas is manage to rock anywhere near as hard as they do. It's not just that they play with vigor and power -- it's that they rock. On their eighth album of new material (and first with singer Mair‚ad Phelan) they focus, as usual, on traditional tunes and songs, investing everything with their trademark blend of off-handed virtuosity and joyful energy, and they throw in a few subtle curveballs as well -- such as a lovely arrangement of Rickie Lee Jones' "Sailor Song," and another of an old Dillards number called "There Is a Time." Hipster string band the Duhks join in for a couple of tracks as well. But while there are no weak tracks on this album, its most thrilling moments turn out to be the most traditional (or at least traditional-sounding) ones: a stunning rendition of "The Gallant Hussar," the spectacular reel set that opens the program, and a pair of original jigs by bandleader Seamus Egan and guitarist Eamon McElholm. The exception to that rule is a drop-dead gorgeous modern song called "Merry Go Round," a tune that is not especially Celtic in feel but that fits beautifully into the program anyway. Phelan's voice is quite different from that of original singer Karan Casey -- it's a bit darker and grainier, and it brings a nice new facet to Solas' established sound. ~ Rick Anderson