Dropkick Murphys Album Review
Album: 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory
Label: Born & Bred Records – Available now
Genre: Irish-Celtic Punk
Released January 6, 2017
Dropkick Murphys formed in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1996 and initially consisted of lead vocalist Mike McColgan, bassist/vocalist, Ken Casey, guitarist, Rick Barton, and drummer Jeff Erna. Through many years and several lineup changes, the band now consists of bassist/vocalist, Ken Casey, vocalist, Al Barr, guitarist, James Lynch, and drummer Matt Kelley, with Tim Brennan and Jeff DeRosa who accompany on accordion, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, keyboard, piano, tin whistle, and guitar, as well as their aid in backing vocals. They are certainly a talented group of guys.
The album, ‘11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory’, was released January 6, 2017 and was the first studio album the band released in four years. It is their second highest debut album, rating at number 8 on Billboard Hot 200 album charts. It is just under 40 minutes long with 11 tracks that vary slightly in style from what we know as a traditional DKM creation. Like all others before it, this album is also packed with Irish inspiration. Their music is fun and quirky and full of energy. After 8 prior albums, one might start to wonder if they can keep the streak going, but DKM does not falter, even in their 9th album release.
The tin whistle introducing “The Lonesome Boatman” creates the mood of the album right away. Like most artists, their songs come from experiences that have inspired them and shaped them but they deliver them in ways that make them lighthearted and fun. Whether it be through sadness or happiness, hence “pain and glory”, they project their message using every musical tool possible. Several tracks rank high for me on this album, while a couple fall a little short of that same sentiment. “Blood” kicks off reminiscent of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash but they quickly take the reins and make it their own with more speedy instrumentation and gritty vocal delivery. It is an amazing song about doing whatever it takes to get the desired result and not caring what anyone thinks in the process. The bagpipes are a signature element to most of their music and their contribution to the direction of this song is flawless.
“First Class Loser” and “Sandlot” keep the album flowing seamlessly as they continue with upbeat rhythm, claps, and well-known shouts throughout. As you get a little deeper into the album, it becomes obvious that they get a lot of their inspiration from other artists. “Paying My Way” is proof of that. Though it is a very quick introduction, it begins very similar to “We Will Rock You” by Queen. I think it’s safe to assume it was purposefully done. The song is about encouragement; fighting as hard as you can and knowing that no matter how strong or weak you may be, you are a survivor.
The album continues with fast paced momentum through the next few tracks and then slows down just for a moment as they provide us their version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. I knew the moment I heard the song that it was familiar and was pleased at how they adjusted it to fit their style and musical preference. I’ve heard many version in the past but never knew its’ origin until now. Knowing the idea behind “4-15-13”, as it began, I was uncertain of what my reaction would be but as always, DKM has a way of making even song with a sad origin spiritually invigorating. It is written as a tribute to the people of Boston and their ability to stick together as a community even in the midst of tragedies like the Boston bombings. With lyrics like “We stood in your footprints til’ the rain washed them away. The memories never fade, with us they’ll always stay” a good cry seems inevitable, and yet, the composition of the song makes them uplifting in every way. “Until the End” is my least favorite song on the album. Mentally, as the song played, I envisioned Greg, Marsha, and the other Brady Bunch kids singing and dancing at a talent show.
With all of that said, my opinion of the album is that as a whole, it is familiar but has its’ differences. It has all of the elements that are typical of a DKM album. I rate it a 4 out of 5. The music still continues to energize me. They remain one of my favorite bands because of the enthusiastic sound of their music and continued ability to produce songs that entertain while touching on subjects that aren’t always “happy and jolly”. From the lyrics to the instruments used, their songs are good for the soul. They rejuvenate and revive the true spirit of music in general. If you don’t find yourself singing along or moving while the songs play, stop, grab a beer, start the album over and let the music consume you. You won’t regret it.
Dropkick Murphys Album Track List:
The Lonesome Boatman
Rebels with a Cause
First Class Loser
Paying My Way
I Had a Hat
Kicked to the Curb
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Until the Next Time
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