ALBUM REVIEW: T.C. COSTELLO- ‘The Bluebird’ (2020)

With the imminent release of his seventh album next week London Irish Folk Punker Anto Morra gives his view on T.C. Costello’s The Bluebird.

The Bluebird will be launched live on Facebook on Thursday where T.C. will be debuting some new songs and a few auld favourites too no doubt.

The last time I graced a stage in London I had the pleasure of performing a song with T.C Costello so if you’re expecting an unbiased review you’re gonna be outta luck as when I took the second wave Punk oath back in 1978, I’ve been cursed into a life of artistic honesty.

T.C’s voice is a very acquired taste but what it lacks in melodic beauty, it more than makes up for in passion, expression and wild abandonment in a similar way to MacGowan and Strummer. As a musician he is quite remarkable and completely fearless, with strange instruments dropping in and out all over the place. Imaging the first Roxy Music album lead by an accordion with Ferry on a mixture of absinth and amphetamine, Eno tripping his bollocks off in a room full of chimes bells and whistles, and Manzanera’s strat replaced by a bunch of strange acoustic stringed instruments from the four corners of the earth, and you may have some idea of what you’re gonna get on his latest offering.

‘The Bluebird’ is quite a leap sonically from his previous ‘100 Years Ago’ album but has not lost any of the energy or joy. I am quite ashamed to admit I struggle with any singing that’s not in English (Even the French bit in The Beatles ‘Michelle’ gets on my nerves) and so the opening song ‘Saeya, Saeya Parang Saeya’ was quite a shock and most certainly a challenge for me, but when I applied the right head space and put aside my narrow little Englander prejudiced approach, I started to love it in a similar way I love these early Thompson Twins song’s ‘Vendredi Saint’ or ‘Animal Laugh’.

The term ‘World Music’ is always one I’ve hated (simply because all music is world music unless it’s been made in space) making it mean nothing along with ‘Fusion’ a fuckin’ bass and drum is a fuckin’ fusion!!! However Folk Punk, Celtic Punk does not seem to fully pigeonhole TC Costello’s music adequately so I’m gonna describe it as ‘World Punk’ as the influences here are from everywhere. The psychedelic 60’s india is pulled into Eastern European Klezmer moments and wrapped around the odd traditional and Irish songs and delivered in that authentic, warm, Greenville South Carolina USA accent. Traditional Irish standard ‘To The Begging I Will Go’ follows and is a song I easily relate too and this is a remarkable arrangement of it that seamlessly slides into Italian protest classic ‘Bella Ciao/Pizzicarella Mia’ the latter part sounding like a beautiful Italian love song delivered on Red Bull and Vodka.

The next two songs are very familiar on the Folk scene since the 60’s revival. ‘The Old Churchyard’ popularised by The Watersons and ‘Lord Randall’ a tale of a fool poisoned by the Fairies.

‘Malena’ is another I have to plead ignorance about but it’s full of emotion, passion and musical dexterity. This takes us into the exceptionally familiar ‘Matty Groves’ sticking lyrically close to the Fairport Convention version but musically much more adventurous. ‘Tramp Tramp Tramp’ is a great song about prejudice and discrimination that I think may have taken the melody from ‘God Save Ireland.’  ‘They’re Red Hot’ is a fantastic break neck folk Rag and before you know it, TC is informing us with great joy “who we can and canae throw off the bus”. I’ve heard more versions of ‘Haul Away Joe’ than you can shake a stick at, but the arrangement and performance is one of the best. It’s how I imagine someone like Nick Cave would approach it, very dark, very tortured passionate and authentic. ‘The Willow Garden’ closes this record appropriately, as it is a traditional murder ballad.

This is not a record for those who want a traditional song played the way they always have been, but for people that want possibilities stretched. It’s one of them you’ll listen to again and again and always hear something else going on, a complete acoustic psychedelic head fuck with all the discordant beauty of the world smashed together and made coherent by the passionately spewed lyrics and vocal delivery.
If you want to be taken from anxiety verging on a panic attack, to manic joy and laughter, then be dropped off at the nearest watering hole to cry in your beer? You better buy this album.

(The Bluebird is available for download from Bandcamp. Only $10 the album is set for release on June 1st and all Proceeds go to International Medical Corps, who provide medical and related services to 30 countries around the world)

Pre-Order The Bluebird From TC

Contact T.C. Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

I’d like to leave you with this little clip from a couple of years ago, when I last played in my beloved home town and it really is the only way to put a band together; it features the great man himself as well as Brendan O’Prey of brilliant Celtic Punk outfit “The Lagan.”

ALBUM LAUNCH LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a series of LiveStreams. We begin with the album launch for The Bluebird. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming live from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

The 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans T.C. will go live at 8pm (9pm- Europe) direct into our phones and computers via his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

For more details on our exclusive Live Streams check out here

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