Stephen Young And The Union review…September 9, 2015…

STEPHEN YOUNG AND THE UNION

EAGLE FORT RUMBLE

RAGGED COMPANY RECORDINGS  RCR 001

SHIVER–DUTY FREE 200–LATELY I’VE RESCUED A ROSE–THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND–LAND LEG BLUES–MONSOON SEASON–SHADOWMAN–BEAUTIFUL DEAD–SHUFFLE (IN THE QUICKSAND)–TEARDROPS–SOMEONE YOU DREAM OF

Americana and roots fans here in the USA are about to find out what fans “across the pond” in Ireland have known for quite some time–Stephen Young And The Union are one of the best outfits in any part of the globe.  Their sophomore release is entitled “Eagle Fort Rumble,” eleven originals that showcase the vocal and instrumental talents of Stephen, and the rest of The Union–Shayne Byrne on guitars, banjo, and keys, Kenny Hollywood on keys, Steve Deasy on bass, and Johnny Byrne on drums.

It’s a miracle that this set ever got off the ground, let alone completed to such a high degree.  It was recorded in a secluded log cabin in rural Ireland, eloquently-dubbed “Eagle Fort.”  The sessions were tension-filled, and one member actually left during the band’s six-week seclusion.  That may perhaps be why several of the songs herein have a decided edgy “bite” to them, including the leadoff “Shiver,” with its foreboding groove which rides a brilliant guitar solo as the song builds to its climax.  Shimmering mandolin, courtesy of Brian Murphy, earmark “Duty Free 200.”

We heard a lot of traditional Irish folk influences scattered throughout, too.  Banjo lines are the common thread of “Lately I’ve Rescued A Rose,” and “Shuffle (In The Quicksand) bristles with a vintage vibe.  The set closes with a sparsely-arranged, pastoral piece built around Stephen’s vocal and lone piano, which gives way to strings to augment “Someone You Dream Of.”

We had two favorites, too.  Jangly guitars and over-the-top vocal arrangements recall Sixties’-era Roger McGuinn and the Byrds in both “The Blind Leading The Blind” and “Beautiful Dead.”

The total time spent from start to finish in the making of “Eagle Fort Rumble” added up to some two-and-a-half years.  But, we believe fans will feel it was time well-spent, as Stephen Young And The Union have produced a set with excellent musicianship and vocals from this truly talented group of players!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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