CD Review: 'Saints and Sinners' by the Young Dubliners

  Enlarge Photo    
Friday, July 31, 2009


"Saints and Sinners"

Kindred spirits: Big Country, Coldplay, the Pogues

Show: Wednesday at the Birchmere. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. 703-549-7500.

The Young Dubliners say they really hate it when listeners liken the band's sound to "the Pogues meet Van Halen." With apologies to the band, the description really fits when you consider its latest release, "Saints and Sinners."

The album's 12 songs once again prove that the band isn't rock, punk, folk or Celtic but instead a very tasty mix of those genres plus a few more. The mostly uptempo songs, punctuated with a few plaintive, wailing Irish ballads, offer more variety than the old Howard Johnson's ice cream counter.

Perhaps it's not surprising that several tracks, including "Backseatdriver," have generous dollops of Celtic mixed into the Young Dubliners' core sound. Other songs such as "(I Don't Think I'll) Love Anymore" sound so Irish they could have come right out of Clannad's catalogue.

But unlike many Celtic, British or Scottish folk bands that dabble in rock, the Young Dubliners are comfortable in other genres, such as in the rocker "Chance" and the leaning-toward-mainstream-in-a-good-way "Buy You a Life." Think of U2 with a bit more ethnicity and you've got it.

"Saints and Sinners" is akin to a marriage between American rock-and-roll and a modern dose of Celtic folk and plenty of nods to pop and other genres. It really is a sound only the Young Dubs create.

-- Nancy Dunham

© 2009 The Washington Post Company