The Upshot: Elements of country rock, power pop, garage and even Thin Lizzy inform this diverse four-songer.
BY FRED MILLS
In testimony to the song’s timelessness, Irish anthem “Whiskey In the Jar” continues to be rediscovered and reinvented. No longer the mere domain of Irish traditional musicians (Dubliners et al), it probably made its biggest impact in the ‘70s when Thin Lizzy took it to the top of the charts. A generation later, Metallica snagged a Grammy for their 1998 version. Northern Cali songwriter Sean O’Brien (True West, Denim TV, Mariettas) would probably be considered as arriving on the musical scene in between those two bands, age-wise, but with his latest combo His Dirty Hands, he sounds thoroughly fresh—and he’s rejuvenated the aforementioned track to turn it into a rousing slice of power pop that contains certain Lizzy overtones (the main guitar riff in particular) but, with his high, keening vocals, brings a certain yearning quality that’s all his own.
Elsewhere on this four-song EP, O’Brien & Co. serve up the title track, a galloping, twangy anthem; “Sleeping With Me,” a dark, rumbling, dissonant garage rocker; and “The Drooling Angels,” a sweet country-rock ballad that, with a female’s co-lead vocal, lends a distinctive Gram ‘n’ Emmylou vibe to the proceedings. Huzzah! More, please.
Plea answered: En route from O’Brien is a new single this fall, “Old Black Cloud,” a wonderful soul workout, complete with horns, which was cut during the Mistakes sessions. Too, earlier this year O’Brien released a collection of live acoustic tunes, It Was Sad Without You There. You can snag ‘em all at his website and also check him out at his Facebook page.
DOWNLOAD: “Whiskey In the Jar,” “Sleeping With Me”