STYLE: Celtic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 82389-15679 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Several of the cuts here remind me of the recent album by another Irish songwriting talent, Belfast's Brian Houston. On 'Gospel Road' Brian penned a batch of songs that, though new compositions, leaned heavily on the traditional sounds of old school black and Southern gospel songs. Dublin's Ronan Johnston and the outreach band of the Emmaus Community take a similar back-to-the-roots approach on several songs here and the effect is equally engaging. Ronan has an excellent, bluesily expressive voice and on songs like the slowish opener "Dry Bones", the gutsily emotive title track with some searing Hammond organ, and the bluesy "If The Devil Gets A Hold" there's passion aplenty. It's only when Ronan and his fellow musicians demonstrate their eclecticism that the album loses a little focus - "Never Let Me Down" is a gentle ballad with a hymnal air while "Patrick's Shield" is a Celtic gem - but overall, many of the songs here are strong enough to take and hold the listener. This is the first album for years from the Emmaus veterans. Great to see them back.
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