The Carolan Brothers’ ‘Equinox’ EP – Review
The Carolan Brothers are a 6-piece folk and roots-rock band hailing from Drogheda, Co. Louth. The band are an impressive line-up of Drogheda’s young talent, fronted by the Carolan siblings (Gene, Stephen and James on vocals and guitars) and completed by David Coffey on keys, Ian Hand on drums and Ms Ailbhe Rogers on violin. The band relies upon a raw, natural sound and retro-folk styling.
In April 2014, sensing a peak in their collective chemistry and musicianship, the Carolan Brothers retreated from the pubs circuit to the secluded grounds of Balmarino House, just outside Drogheda, on the banks of the River Boyne. Here, under the direction of local producer, Neil Conlan, the band spent a single day laying down the tracks for their debut release. The result is ‘Equinox.’ ‘Equinox’ typifies what the Carolan Brothers are about: nuts’n’bolts folk music, preserving natural sound and attention to song craft.
The song, Pennies, strongly affirms that their decision to retreat away from the local limelight of pubs and bars was a pivotal decision. There is a wonderful harmony of guitar and drum that hums throughout the song, the indecision of love and maturity is practically palpable. The song emphasises the link between love and uncertainty, perfectly encapsulating the essence of unwavering affection. As the band says themselves, this is a track forged from “hindsight and horizons”. The infectious melody of folksy guitar and vocals makes this a relatable easy-listen. The Carolan Brothers have clearly used their time to ensure that they produced tracks that were flavoursome in their style and meaning, there isn’t a single filler track on the EP, from start to finish each song is filled with a certain pensive manner.
When I am to Die cements the folksy quality of their musicality, there is a sort of upbeat rhythm that commands the ear, again the style is focused on youth and manhood. There’s a sort of barn dance charm to the track that suggests the group relies upon the trial and error of romantic encounters as much as drunken epiphanies. Their style drifts between a rose-tinted past and a new, uncertain future, uncertainty colours the EP confused, but in a manner that is both sweet and charming, their youth is prevalent throughout their EP, which makes them an attractive listen, and it is the uncertainty that makes them distinctly relatable as musicians.
Their tracks, ‘The Longest Winter’ and ‘We Were Lovers Once’, highlights that there is no gimmick to their musical mannerisms, the vibrato of guitar is enough to alight their music, they don’t need any falsities to colour their music. There is an unwavering attractiveness to these tracks that demonstrates the group prefer to focus on the classical elements of song writing, they don’t need to talk about what is contemporary, and they deal with topics that are wondrously timeless.
‘Equinox’ will cost €5 and will be available to download from Friday, June 27th through carolanbrothers.bandcamp.com. The band are hosting a launch party in the Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, on August 8th, and hope to put any profit into funding a broader tour encompassing Cavan, Maynooth, Dublin, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tralee and Killarney.
Review by Elaine McDonald