REVIEW: THE MOORINGS- ‘Unbowed’ (2017)

The Moorings. As recommended by The Dubliners!

An ultra-energetic French quintet delivering a fantastic mix somewhere in the middle between celtic folk and alternative rock.

So I was always told my auld fella that you should judge a man by the company he keeps. He used to say this to try and get me to stop hanging about with some rather unsavoury characters in my home town. If you can apply the same to bands then The Moorings are a band that any parent would be happy to see you associating with. They are basically the first port of call for any of the celtic-punk scenes major bands when they arrive in France and  are looking for supports. They have played with just about every decent sized band going and as says above recommended by The Dubliners. They have toured with just about all the greats of Irish punk from The Pogues to the Murphys to The Dubliners. Their last EP even had guest vocals from Frankie of The Rumjacks.

The Moorings (from left to right) : Anne Darrieumerlou- Violin/Vocal * Renaudet Matthieu- Bass/Vocal * D. Phil Jelly- Lead Vocal/Guitar * Didier Strub- (Ex-Drummer) * Nicky Sickboy- Banjo / Guitar / Vocal

Formed in 2011 in the small town of Sélestat in the north-west of France on the border with Germany The Moorings assent has been spectacularly quick and without even having released an album. Their debut EP ‘Pints And Pins’ from July 2011 introduced them to the wider celtic-punk world and received praise from all and sundry. Five mostly self penned tracks including the brilliant ‘Working Class’ which gave up plenty but promised so much more as well.

This was followed up with a live album La Cigale Unplugged. Again mainly self penned its eight tracks that show how good The Moorings are as both a band and as individual musicians as well. The superb production helps and on hearing the album it’s easy to see why they chose to release it. Their third and final release was another EP. This time ‘Nicky’s Detox’ EP from December 2014 really showed what they could do. Five tracks all written by the band that again received glowing tributes from all the regular celtic-punk press including ourselves here. The song that really raised interest in the band, ‘Shandon Bells’ features Frankie McLaughlin of The Rumjacks on guest vocals and made it onto just every celtic-punk podcast in existance.

So Unbowed is the band’s first proper studio album but will it live up to all the hype? The answer is of course most certainly. Twelve tracks that last over forty minutes and show The Moorings haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to make utterly brilliant music. The album kicks off with the hilarious ‘Another Drinking Wound’ and anyone whose ever had a, what we Irish call, a “very good night” can attest to waking up the next morning with unspecified bruising and a lack of memory of how you got them.

“Where does the pain in my butt come from?”

The song starts with some great rock’n’roll guitar and a brilliant catchy start. D.Phil.Jelly sounds just like our Shane even including his cockney sneer! It’s fast and not particularly folky but ‘Captain Watson’s Gang’ introduces the first of that quieter numbers. Be moaning the turn of the world to the worship of money. I say quiet but not really. Great drumming here that keeps the song flowing along. They enter a world unbeknown to me next with ‘Amsterdam’. Originally recorded by the Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and director Jacques Brel. The song is in French and has that ‘Parisian’ feel to it due to the style of accordion playing. A lovely song and picked wisely as it would please both their audience at home and abroad who are jaded at hearing the same old covers over and over again. Delivered with The Moorings stamp it’s a great song and builds to a crescendo before the banjo slows it all down and takes us into a instrumental, ‘The Dancy Cargo Hold’s Dance/ Mermaid’s Jig’. As was showed with that live album the y can certainly turn their hand to a traditional folk song and I’m sure live this is a guarantee to get the audience on their feet. Both part’s are fiddle led with subdued quiet backing except for military style drumming. Great stuff! The Moorings like the name suggests like a sea bound song and here’s the first one, The Mariner I Used To Be’ begins with tin whistle and it’s a slow’ish’ ballad telling of a sailor whose had enough of the hardships of the sea and decides to settle down with his new love. Another song in French follows with ‘Les Bras Piqués’. Can’t tell you what it’s about but it’s a fair corker of a song moving at a fair old pace once it gets going. ‘Drink Up Fast’ was the first release from Unbowed and came accompanied by the brilliant video below.

It’s no wonder that celtic-punk gigs are so beloved and greedily anticipated by landlords with this amount of drinking going on! Shouty vocals and fiddle led folk-punk that’s a real thigh slapper.

“The road to destiny is just as empty
As the days passing by sloggin’ in a fact’ry
Turning around mostly going nowhere
Leaving the dreams for someone else to have
So as boredom sets in and wears me out
I cannot help but stand my ground
By filling up my glass to the very top
And drawn the little bastard in one single shot”
Most of the words here are written by banjo/guitarist Nicky Sickboy and they are clever, thoughtful and often hilarious and often within the same song so it’s good that the CD comes with lyrics included though the singing is very clear and easy to understand. ‘Brandy Bell’ is the highlight of the album for me. Not quite sure what the song is about. Honest. Sung half in English , half in French it’s a real catchy banjo number with the fiddle in the background exactly right. We are slowed right down again for ‘Posy Of Lily’ which is basically just D.Phil and acoustic guitar with fiddle. A lovely interlude between the punkier stuff and the words of a man desperate to make things right with his true love only add to the beauty of the song. Luca from the ever amazing Italian celtic-punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards takes up whistle duties next in ‘Mutins’ and it’s another French song and I have to say it never bothers me that bands play in their native language I think more should do it. What an amazing musician this man is and even greater to see two band helping each out this way. The chugging guitar is back and accompanied by lovely fiddle too and of course Luca’s top whistling! The pace is back up for ‘Ice Cold Jar Of Whiskey’
“Some people need to fight to let their anger out
Some might need to bribe to find an easy way out
Some people might get thrilled with anything crazy
When all it really takes is a ice cold jar of whiskey”

and then we are finally at the end and Unbowed comes to end with the album’s longest track ‘Invictus’, starring Marikala on guest vocals. A great song with positive life affirming lyrics that begins with tin whistle this time supplied by Lolc from fellow French celtic-punkers Celkilt. Mainly accordion led but as has been the way throughout D.Phil’s voice stands out in particular. Another album highlight here and a simply fantastic way to bring down the curtain on Unbowed. If this album has one lighter/ pint in the air moment then this it is.

Singer/guitarist D.Phil Jelly has done a great job on this album overseeing just about everything here and the sound is crisp and never once over produced. The biggest danger in celtic-punk is that the folk instruments are completely submerged or else turned up so high to compensate that all you can hear is the tin whistle. No danger of that here as the balance is perfect between the punk and the folk. the songs are never straight forward celtic-punk and there is plenty influence of their home countries indigenous music also. The Moorings have always been one of the more interesting bands in celtic-punk with their appeal overlapping several genre’s I am sure. This is a great album and one that will further cement there place as one of the best, and more innovative, bands in the scene.

(you can have a free listen to Unbowed by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Before you buy it of course!)

Buy The EP

FromTheBand

Contact The Moorings

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5 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE MOORINGS- ‘Unbowed’ (2017)

  1. Marcel ten Hove May 19, 2017 at 10:44 am Reply

    As recommended by the Dubliners? Are you fucking joking?

    • LondonCelticPunks May 19, 2017 at 10:49 am Reply

      No. Not our words. The Dubliners words.

      • Marcel ten Hove May 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

        I know and appreciate the Dubliners. But if they’d reccomend a noise album to me I would..I dont know what I would do. Its like Madonna reccomending the New Tool or Carach Angren.

      • LondonCelticPunks May 19, 2017 at 10:53 am

        Its a celtic punk album so i think the Dubliners could appreciate what a new generation was doing with folk music to try and keep it relevant and interesting after all they were the punks of their day themselves.

  2. Marcel ten Hove May 19, 2017 at 10:55 am Reply

    Its certainly a cool album.
    I listened a bit. Its just so funny! At the other hand; theyve been Wild Rovers.. lol.

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