“After the Sherry Went Round” – The Eskies

4 stars (out of 5)

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The Eskies - 'After The Sherry Went Round' - cover (300dpi)Here’s one that’s been eagerly anticipated here at Riot Towers since their single “Jesus Don’t Save Me” was released earlier this year. The album’s been available in Ireland (and at live shows) for a while now, but this is the official UK release.

So, where on earth do you start trying to describe The Eskies? The band are Irish, but got together in Europe, which hints at the breadth of influences you can hear on this exhilarating, eclectic and energetic album. Ian Bermingham, Tim George, Stephen Kearney, Robert Murphy and Sean O Reilly have pulled together elements of Irish folk, sea shanties, gipsy jazz, klezmer, ska and vaudeville to create “After the Sherry Went Round”. After the mood-setting instrumental title track, it moves at breakneck speed, packing every imaginable punch before slowing down a little with the penultimate song “Rapture and Revelry”, a triple-time tale of mismatched lovers.

Although the tempo rarely lets up, there’s a huge rhythmic and dynamic range across the album. The rhythms shift from a slight emphasis on the backbeat to the out and out ska feel of “Thelma Erve” and many of the songs feature punchy staccato arrangements that add a theatrical drama to the songs that creates a challenge when they’re played live because they need really tight ensemble playing. And, yes, they can do it all live, and more besides. The element that The Eskies never lose sight of is that no matter how dark or melancholy the message of the song, it has to be entertaining if you want to engage your audience. “After the Sherry Went Round” entertains from start to finish with its frenetic pace, changes of direction and injections of theatricality; it’s the craic set to music, if you like.

As an introduction to the weird and wonderful world of The Eskies, this album pretty much nails it, capturing the manic energy and musicality of the live performances while adding trumpet, clarinet and trombone to create a cabaret/circus feel to some of the arrangements. You certainly won’t be bored.

The Eskies have been doing the festival circuit over the summer and they’ll be touring indoor venues through the autumn.

“After the Sherry Went Round” is released on Parochial Dancehall Records on Friday August 26th.

The Eskies have been known to have a go at the odd cover; have a look at this one: