In Search of More
(Off Hand, 2001)

Neo-Celtic groove-a-lacious mondo-pop indulgence. Don't worry if you don't quite understand the tag line, just think "kitchen sink" and make it easier on yourself. This band has it all. Celtic, rock, folk, traditional, cover -- there's nothing they can't do and little they won't.

Founded by singer/songwriter/percussionist/guitarist and all-around nice guy Wolf Loescher, the band brings together the outstanding talents of several core members while taking advantage of the good humor and expertise of many a transient musician. There should be concern that the ever-changing roster would create a rough and uneven product. In reality, quite the opposite occurs. By enlisting the talents of only the "best of the best," Wolf's plan was to form a supergroup that would make a limited number of appearances, release extraordinary recordings, punctuate the musical offerings of some of the larger festivals and more noteworthy pubs, and be fun at the same time. What he got was a group of master artisans who simulate a finely-tuned machine and make their work look like child's play.

Their first full-length recorded effort, In Search of More, offers 13 excellent reasons to make every effort to hear this band. The sheer energy harnessed within songs like "The Brewery Tap," approximately 5 1/2 minutes of burn-the-house-down funk, is the audio equivalent of an electrical storm. By turn, "I Have Come to Take My Boy Home," the story of every mother's heart, will bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat: "What if all the mother's in the world declared enough's enough and boldly faced the generals and dared to call their bluff? Marching onto battlefields, their voices raised in song, to find their missing sons and take them home where they belong." Deanna Smith's voice is part angel, part meat grinder and anyone listening can not possibly remain untouched. Complete with the sounds of crashing waves, "Kishmul's Galley" evokes the mental image of an ancient galley, oars sticking out the sides, fighting its way across a storm-tossed sea. But this is just the short list, there's simply not a bad track on the CD.

The core members are Deanna Smith (vocals, guitar), Wolf Loescher (bouzouki, guitar, percussion, vocals), Matthew Williams (drums, guitar, vocals), Rodger Harrision (bass guitar, vocals), Richard Kean (Highland pipes, small pipes, whistles) and Mark Kenneth (accordion, keyboards). Each of these musicians is a master craftsman in his or her own right, and most do double (or triple) time with other bands. They are joined on the album by Brendan O'Sullivan (accordion, keyboards) and Lars Sloan (Highland pipes, small pipes, didgeridoo).

[ by Sheree Morrow ]
Rambles: 30 May 2002

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