The Indulgers,
Tan & Black
(Celtic Club, 2001)

It's always great to discover a new band. It's equally grand to rediscover a band that you've overlooked in recent years.

I raved about In Like Flynn, the 1999 debut recording of the Indulgers, whose Colorado-based Celtic rock is filled with infectious fun. Now, with Tan & Black residing comfortably in my car stereo for the past several weeks, I can say with some assurance that the Indulgers won't be short-timers on the busy Celtic-rock scene.

The band is Damien McCarron (vocals, guitar), Mike Nile (vocals, guitar, mandolin, accordion, whistles, bagpipes, keys), Patrick Murphy (drums), Renee Fine (fiddle) and Chris Murtaugh (bass). The CD boasts 13 tracks, beginning with "The Legend of Tan & Black," a short poem by McCarron and Nile, the band's primary songwriters.

The songs are just as infectiously fun as they were on Flynn and, likewise, the liner notes provide no clue to their meanings or origins. The lyrics often read as being darker than the songs' moods would indicate; they're upbeat on the surface, deep if you listen closely to the words.

Of course, that's not always the case, as evidenced by the band's entertaining closer, "Saturday Night," which boasts colorful lines like "People gathered toe to toe, check around for those you know, update the stories, the week's events, money earned, money spent, hold on now, the band's on stage, bodies swift and rearrange, hold on now, better beat last call, order now or not at all." Deep, no; fun, yes.

The track list is wholly enjoyable, with standouts including "Easy Come, Easy Go," "Book of Ages," "Tir na nOg" and "King Willy's Gold." Also worth noting is a new arrangement of "What a Wonderful World," a song made famous by Louis Armstrong. Vocals on this album are smooth and mellow, flowing over the band's signature instrumental sound.

The Indulgers aren't recording songs for Irish music traditionalists, but they take the root of Irish music and inspiration to devise a distinctive edge all their own. Celtic rock enthusiasts should already be familiar with this band; if not, you have some catching up to do.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 30 May 2002

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