Paul McKenna Band In Time for the Holidays

Between Two Worlds
Mad River 1019
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The Paul McKenna Band is a quintet of five seriously talented young Scotsmen. They did the festival circuit in the U.S. last summer, but they remain under known because the band’s album Between Two Worlds was hard to find. No more; Mad River has released it and one of the biggest favors you can do yourself this holiday season is to grab it. If this album isn’t the antidote for the endless barrage of Christmas carols, you’ll probably need to check into rehab!

Paul McKenna has a singular voice, one that is simultaneously soothing yet contains a hint of rasp. Check out “Dancing in the Dark,” a song that is gentle but has an ever-so-faint undercurrent of unsettledness. Another standout is “P Stands for Paddy,” a song borrowed from Ireland that manages to be defiant and sweet at the same time. McKenna’s intriguing voice is backed by a stellar group of musicians, including fiddler Ruaridh Macmillian, who will remind longtime Celtic fans of a young (and smoother) Brian McNeill. That’s partly because Brian was his mentor at the Royal Scottish Academy and Macmillan is unabashed in his admiration for him. David McNee and Ewan Baird handle much of the rhythm work on bouzouki and bodhran (or box drum) respectively, and Macmillan’s swooping melodies are matched note by glorious note by Sean Gray’s flutes and penny whistles.

Sample these lads on YouTube and then buy this album. It will make you feel better than a boatload of fa-la-las.

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