Stephen Young & The Union - Shuffle In The Quicksand
Info: Ireland's original country rock and Americana band Stephen Young & The Union release their long-awaited second album, Eagle Fort Rumble, this coming Friday, 27th of November, with a headline show at The Grand Social on the banks of the River Liffey. The new album sees the five piece take control of the reigns and shift their much loved sound in a more refined, grounded and personal direction than their much lauded debut LP Wilderness Machine back in 2011, and the time taken in between has proven to be fruitful. Below is a whistle-stop tour of the bands formation and Stephen's recent U.S. tour in an interview we did at The Sound Feed studio last week and a review of the album itself.
The opening bars of 'Shiver', the albums first track, encapsulate the new (yet loyal to the old) sound of Stephen Young & The Union, you're immediately transported to saw-dust floored bars in the American West, there's intent and energy with some fine soaring guitar solos, with the vocals accompanied by piano balancing a softer side in the background. 'Duty Free 200', which featured here last year, is the first single from Eagle Fort Rumble, it's a sweet and easy ballad, there's really nice intricate interplay between acoustic guitars and again I'm digging the piano on this one a lot.
'Lately I've Loved A Rose' sees SY&TU step back slightly from the Americana sound and launch into full on rock mode, drawing on their influences such as The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, both of which unsurprisingly dabbled in both genres in equal measure, the fiddle really raises the track up to another level as well as it heads into borderline anthemic territory. Having previously heard the three singles to date and their last album 'The Blind Leading The Blind' took me by surprise, the firmest example of them building on what they've done before and taking it forward, vocally it's very 1960's trippy psych and musically the guitars wander delightfully off into Thin Lizzy, both resting comfortably side by side.
Approaching the albums half-way point the penny has dropped that my preconceptions of Eagle Fort Rumble being solely an upgrade on 2011's Wilderness Machine have evaporated. Pure 60's folk steps in on the completely gorgeous 'Land Leg Blues', this track is on another level, like a song from the heyday that was never written and has now been found, it's the one that so far I've listened to most times on the album. On 'Monsoon Season' the energy returns, a sense of abandon ensues with the five-piece letting fly, you can hear each musician individually, almost as if they have been separated but it all comes together in an uplifting burst of a session.
Remy interviews Stephen and Johnny @ The Sound Feed studio
The albums second single 'Shadowman' has its lyrics masked by the foot-stomping music; 'Every night there's a little less light in everyones eyes', subtly addressing one or more rarely spoken about human conditions. Stephen Young & The Union rock it back up again with 'Teardrops (On the Sidewalk)', another very strong example of talented song-writing on the album, there's a bit of old U2 and 1980's Dublin here for me personally, around October and War era, if I was completely unaware of the band or their music and was played the track with no information whatsoever I'd know this was penned by an Irish artist. The album is sealed for me with the finale of 'Someone You Dream Of', it's the most beautiful song I've heard this year by any artist, and if I'm to be perfectly honest it was a bit overwhelming, maybe I wasn't expecting it, songs like this are why I listen to and love music and I know I'll be revisiting Eagle Fort Rumble as a whole for a long time to come.
You can pre-order Eagle Fort Rumble on the following platforms;
Stephen Young & The Union - Shadowman
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