Seems like only five minutes since their last album The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats reel off another one! This time In Strange Waters celebrates their 10th anniversary together but not as you’d expect it to do. Nine of the best Paddyhats songs played in completely new arrangements and genres and a bonus of a completely new song. There’s only one man we know that can get to grips with that. Take it away Anto Morra.
The Paddyhats have got to be one of the hardest working bands around, even managing to release the brilliant ‘Dogs On A Leash’ in 2020. How many gigs they managed from their accompanying tour is anyone’s guess! Clearly German work ethic is unfazed by the pandemic. I was delighted and privileged to be asked to review their 10th Anniversary offering ‘In Strange Waters’ not just a compilation album re-mastered and packaged with an extra song, but a brilliantly executed snapshot of their 10 years together with 9 of their best songs re-imagined, arranged and recorded and a previously unreleased song.
The album opens with their 100% party song ‘Barrels of Whiskey’. Here the drums are stripped back, a bottle-neck guitar is added together with a more refined moody vocal style. It has an almost Alabama 3 quality, and the horn section at the end is a lovely touch. Taken from their 2016 album ‘Seven Hearts One Soul’ is ‘Fair Old Lady’
The 10 year version starts with a beautifully sparse piano making it very mellow and as it continues it becomes more Celtic Mysticism than Celtic Punk, reminding me of Enya’s 1988 hit ‘Orinocco Flow’ but with a much more earthy vocal and a lot less pretentious. There is an unaccompanied section with just vocal harmonies, which works brilliantly.
‘Ferry Man’ from 2020’s ‘Dogs on a Leash’ is taken up a notch in party stakes and with a terrific horn section, almost ventures into Two Tone territory, while amazingly still maintaining an overall Irish feel.
‘Light Up’ is the only song I’ve not heard before, and is a craicin’ song in the Shanty tradition with a perfectly subtle banjo break. Ed Sheerhan’s ‘Galway Girl’ springs to mind when the funky pop rhythm of ‘Irish Way’ kicks in. It’s an age old tale of men being led a stray by the smarter sex, and a very fresh and far removed update from their 2017 album ‘Sign Of The Fighter’.
‘We’re bollocks full of Sin’ has got to be one of the best line in a song ever! So glad it’s still in this really interesting, less aggressive and more melodic version of their 2018 album title track ‘Green Blood’
Followed by another album title track 2020’s ‘Dogs On A Leash’
This time done as a wonderful sparse acoustic version,with almost barbershop vocal harmonies. Before you get too comfortable and start to think they may have lost their edginess ‘We All Know’ shows off a more Metal influence and is almost ‘Black Sabbath’ in places and Death Metal in others. ‘Beautiful Fear’ is a wonderful song and this new Shanty version with big dramatic drums gives it all the pathos the lyrics require.
2018’s ‘Yesterday’s Rebel’ closes the album and once again it’s softened with a host of synthetic pop additions reminding me of what Sinead O’Connor did with traditional songs on her album ‘Sean-Nos Nua’
This is possibly The Paddyhats easiest to listen to album. A real testament to their song writing and creative abilities, great songs can be done in lots of different ways and this proves that in so many ways. This band do not let the grass grow and I’m so glad they’ve dared to do this different. They still are and always will be one of the best Celtic Punk Bands around and their humour and versatility has never been more prevalent than on this record. Well done Paddyhats, Keep Punking about and mixing it up!
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Born and raised in London by immigrant parents from Ireland Anto Morra swapped the Smoke for the Swamp in 1989 and adopted Norfolk as home but still returns often to visit his Mammy and play for London Celtic Punks. At times a pogoing, gobbing Punk, a lazy pot smoking hairy Hippy, a bopping Rock-A-Billy, a sharp dressed Mod and even a Bauhaus loving Goth he’s soaked it all in and none of it and all of it has been an influence on him.