The Eskies – And Don’t Spare The Horses
Folk | Folk Rock | Alternative
Good music generally speaks for itself, but every now and then we crave something with a bit of flair and theatricality, and in that regard Irish folk quintet The Eskies more than deliver. Their exuberant brand of gypsy folk sounds like it was concocted during a recording session between The Decemberists and a bunch of Disney villains, and fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol. From the raucous barrage of ‘All Good Men’, one of the most addictive tracks to emerge this year, you are left in no doubt of what to expect. With its roaring brass and riotous vocals it’s like a flawlessly choreographed bar brawl in music form. ‘I’d Rather Be Lonely’ dials up the sleeze factor and shows the band at their most theatrical, while ‘Hail, Hail’ offers some rich lyrical imagery alongside its spaghetti western vibes.
The overall tone and feel of the record is extraordinary, but when you focus in on the individual tracks you start to feel the songwriting needs work in places to provide a few more “wow” moments. The softer tracks often don’t play to the band’s strengths, and you get the impression that you’d be better served using odd tracks here and there to liven up your day, rather than the album as a whole. To be extra picky, my biggest gripe is the title track. With a name like ‘And Don’t Spare The Horses’ you’d expect a rollicking folk maelstrom to end the album on a high, while instead it is an entirely unnecessary little interlude. The album has a few kinks to work out, which on a second release is a given, but make no mistake that in the record’s highlights, at the height of their powers, The Eskies make some of the most all-consumingly joyous music around.