Release: Signed And Sealed In Blood (Album)
Release Date: 07/01/2013
“The boys are back, and they are looking for trouble!”
There could not be more of a fitting introduction to the Dropkick Murphys latest album ‘Signed And Sealed In Blood‘, as the opening track ‘The Boys Are Back‘ roars in to life with the trademark Celtic-punk stamp that the group have perfected over the course of their 16 year career.
‘Signed And Sealed With Blood‘ sees the band teaming up once again with critically acclaimed producer Ted Hutt, who recorded the album during the summer of 2012 at Q Division Studios in Massachusetts, USA.
Whilst their previous album ‘Going Out In Style‘ was a concept album in retrospect about the life and times of a fictional character named Cornelius Larking, their current effort strays away from any such concept, or any particular formula for a consistent flow of themed songs. Instead, this is an album to which the Dropkick Murphys have returned to their roots, gathered their collective musical influences and inspiration and have made a collection of extremely catchy songs that the listener can have fun, celebrate, sing along and dance to without a care in the world.
Whilst this is of course a typically standard Dropkick Murphys album in terms of what to expect, there also lies a new found sense of musical direction. If anything, this is without a doubt (in terms of musicality) the most stripped down and diverse offering they have made to date. Take for example the following songs, ‘Rose Tattoo‘ (the first single from the album), and ‘Jimmy Collins’ Wake‘. Whilst the instrumentation remains of typical fashion, the band noticeably lean towards the genre of outlaw country music. This by any means is in no way a bad thing. If anything, it shows a more mature yet relaxed side to the band’s musical experimentation and direction, without taking away any of the energy and sing-along tradition to their infectious songwriting skills.
Another classic example of their musical diversity is shown in the forthcoming second single from the album, ‘The Season’s Upon Us‘. Although upon first listen this may sound like a happy-go-lucky Christmas song, when you read in to the lyrics it soon becomes apparent that the song is actually a tongue in cheek telling of a dysfunctional family over the yule tide period. As further listening of the album progresses, the band show their true Celtic punk colours in future crowd-pleaser anthems such as ‘Burn‘ and ‘The Battle Rages On‘ to their more traditional folk based compositions such as ‘Prisoner’s Song‘ and ‘Out On The Town‘.
Although one of the more surprising elements to this album lies within the last three songs, which also expresses one of my only qualms about the album in general. If anyone is familiar with Ted Hutt‘s previous production work, you can notice an extremely similar sound to that of what was displayed on the album ‘The ’59 Sound‘ by The Gaslight Anthem. This is particularly evident in the song ‘Out Of Our Heads‘. However, this is not a particular stab at the musicianship on show here, just merely but a personal critique towards the production on one or two of the songs, which could have potentially spoilt the sonic flow of this great collection of songs.
But all can be forgiven when it comes to the final song of the album ‘End Of The Night‘ which musically speaking is almost a reminiscent nod of a whiskey soaked version of Queen‘s ‘We Are The Champions‘. Complete with a more upbeat and anthemic lyrical theme as a celebration to the end of a great night of partying and singing, this is quite simply a fine ending to a brilliant album.
Whilst ‘Signed And Sealed In Blood‘ is not as immediate and life affirming as previous efforts released by the band, nor re-inventing the wheel as such, it still serves its purpose as an album of utterly great Celtic-punk rock and folk compositions. This album is a definite grower for sure, but be assured that once it sinks in, it is as life-affirming and infectious as you can possibly imagine. A genuine treat to listen to.
Reviewer: James Paul Matthews