Albums 2013 | Solas – Shamrock City

A look at albums we have written about in 2013 – here’s Solas and their 2013 release ‘Shamrock City‘  taken from Irish Music Magazine.


Shamrock City
THL Records THL001, 16 Tracks, 56 Minutes

From the haunting A Stór mo Chroí crackling vinyl refrain from the Keane Sisters, a story enfolds that both captivates through spirit and hardship. This story of Shamrock City, notably Butte, Montana and the journey of Seamus Egan’s great–great uncle, Michael Conway, from the lakes of County Mayo to his untimely demise at ‘the richest hill on earth’, needs no picture. The imagery is borne from the words and music of the Solas talent who have produced a fascinating documentary of immigrant fortitude.
It’s evident that Shamrock City is an emotively personal project for each and every member of the band. The instrumentals swing from jazzy Americana joy in High Wide and Handsome to Horan’s melancholy plaintiveness in Welcome the Unknown where the fiddle strings are woven through a compelling instrumental arrangement in which whistle and string echo with ease around the evocative air.
Lyrically, Shamrock City is a masterpiece in capturing the essence of the immigrants’ tale. From the loneliness of leaving in Far Americay to the hardy spirit of Tell God and the Devil, the journey is descriptive and hard hitting. The choice of guest vocal, namely Rhiannon Giddens, Aoife O’Donovan and Dick Gaughan, is spot on for the combination of lyrics, instrumental and tone. I defy anyone to not be moved by Varian–Barry’s hypnotic version of Am I Born to Die which features an enthralling instrumental backdrop and, well, the standout song is the finale of the album: Michael Conway will certainly be No Forgotten Man as McAuley and Varian–Barry’s beautiful blend of vocal ensures that the fighting spirit of the man, who followed his dream, lives on.
The spirit and determined hardship of heritage seeps into your soul and lingers with Shamrock City, leaving a resounding appreciation of the creativity, both musically and lyrically, of Solas to deliver a definite contender for album of the year. A stunning depiction of what could be any of our ancestors journey to a new life.
Eileen McCabe