This is the debut album by the Irish-American quintet of three fiddles, bass and guitar, formed in 2020 practically by accident. But the musicians are anything but spring chickens: the band history on their website mentions Gaelic Storm, Grammys, music academies and what have you – not beginner stuff, this.
Which explains why Sailing On does not sound like a first release; it’s confident, relaxed, vibrant and brim full of good vibes and cheer.
I can testify to that personally: just as the snow banks here in Finland began to show signs of melting, we got a fresh new load dumped on us last night. Slightly pissed off at this setback, I set out for a brisk walk after doing the mandatory snow work. I picked, quite at random from my music radar, this album to accompany me.
And lo: in an instant I found myself smiling and walking faster, making my way through 10 centimeters of wet, heavy snow, my belief in spring beginning soon restored.
This happy effect is not due to any particular innovation in the music. Their original tunes are solid and enjoyable, the cover tunes excellent, all within the field of contemporary Irish folk. It’s the spirit and the joy that lifts an album like this, the contagion of happiness in music. L
ike the blues or any music with deep and soulful roots, you don’t have to be terribly original if you “have it” and can communicate the essence and the vibe of the music and the culture.
The Bow Tides most certainly do. Sailing On is a most enjoyable album; it should play longer than its humble 35 minutes, but it’s brilliant and fun and it saved my winter’s day here in the far north ❄️ Sláinte!