(Greentrax, 2006)

Greentrax has done it again. Nurturing young and new talent and releasing their work to the glorification of traditional music is the way to keep the music alive. And in Bodega, they are presenting life, energy and a true love of music to the world.

Traditional music is clearly continuing to be the new rock music, with so many big names returning to their roots and realizing they cannot do better than mining the motherlode. Here we have a band on the upward curve taking that music and energizing it through great playing and a palpable love of their material.

In particular I like their slight rearrangement of the familiar. This is wonderfully evident on "Crooked Jack," a song almost done to death in the 1970s; here we get a new take on the material with some inspired instrumentals in the middle. (My one criticism is its classification as traditional; it comes from the pen of Dominic Behan. Then again maybe it is a tribute to him that it is seen as part of the tradition.)

The album is a mixture of vocal and instrumental works, with the lyrics varying between English and Gaelic.

I loved "Wagon Wheel," a song that has been around for some time although this was my first experience with it. It is spooky hearing a Scottish band sounding so American, but it works.

For the story-song, go directly to track 11, "Greenland." Here is folk music at its best. You can feel the icy wind on your cheeks as you chase that whale and are reminded of the oxymoronic name of that huge island in the Atlantic. The musicianship is excellent, giving just the right ambiance to the track and not interfering with the lyrics. If the world were a fair place this track would be released as a single. Radio stations would play it to death and Bodega would be huge. Unfortunately for fans of really good music, the world is not fair, the radio moguls are short-sighted and you will have to seek out the album to become that diehard Bodega fan.

by Nicky Rossiter
19 May 2007