The Coronas,
Trust the Wire
(So Far So Good Records, 2017)

The Coronas, one of Ireland's best and most popular rock bands, have, since their inception in 2007, built up a huge following overseas. Their first album, released in 2007, Heroes or Ghosts spent 74 weeks on the Irish album charts and won them nominations for all of the major awards. The follow-up, Tony Was an Ex-con, won them a best album award at the 2010 Meteor Awards, beating out an album by U2. This one opened up other European territories for the band and their next couple of CDs built on that base.

In a way, the Coronas were inevitable; founding member and spokesman, guitarist and lead singer Danny O'Reilly is the son of Mary Black, who was long ago dubbed the Voice of Ireland, and the sister of progressive folkie Roisin O. That lineage guarantees there is a strong roots element to their music; their music grows out of Ireland's past musical history, while bringing a brand new aspect to it.

Now, with their fifth album, Trust the Wire, the Coronas are out to add another new territory to their base: the United States. This is their first CD to be released here and therefore the first I've heard. Being a fan of O'Reilly's mother and sister I was curious about his work, wondering if it would bring me as much pleasure as the music of the rest of his family did.

It does. Trust the Wire is a solid, adventurous, blend of classic rock and roots music, which simultaneously celebrates the past, the present and the future of the genre. In their songs, you can hear traces of familiar elements, power ballads, folks rock, the blending of acoustic and electric guitars, but you are more likely to hear a strong originality; the Coronas do not ape the familiar; instead they find inspiration in it, use it to form a strong base on which to build their own sound.

Their arrangements are strong and unusual; rooted in folk rock, they bring in surprises periodically, like the trumpet in the background on "A Bit Withdrawn" or the keyboards on "Gut Feeling." The record continually offers small, delightful surprises, which take their songs on directions you had not anticipated. All popular music is a blend of formula and invention. Its effectiveness depends on achieving the right blend of these two elements. The Coronas have found a perfect blend.

Danny O'Reilly's voice is strong, supple and flexible. Most of all it is expressive; you believe what he is singing. He brings a sincerity to the songs that makes you believe that he is not just melodically reciting lyrics, but is instead opening up his heart, revealing true feelings in songs that are well-written and strong and carry a strong ring of truth.

If the intent of Trust the Wire is to build a following for the Coronas in America, it should succeed.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

26 August 2017

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