CD REVIEW: The Kildares - Steal The Sky
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: The Killdares
CD: Steal The Sky
Label: Crimson Clover Music
Genre: Celtic Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Americana
Sounds Like: The Fray, Counting Crows, Clannad, 2002, Celtic Sprint, Capercallie, Anuna, The Corrs
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Winded Songs, Short Sided CD, Female vocals? Cover art concept?
Steal The Sky by The Killdares strikes an artful balance between simply told, poignant tales of love and loss with deep and inspiring philosophical tunes about everything from the nature of being to personal ambition. The Killldares feature drummer & lead vocalist Tim Smith, six time National Fiddle Champion Roberta Rast, competition bagpiper Matt Willis, Gary Thorne on bass and Mike Urness on guitar. Steal The Sky, which includes nine vocal numbers and two instrumentals, blends electronic, acoustic and other unique instruments in a freewheeling mindset of courageous experimentation. Steal the Sky was released in 2014.
The CD kicks things off with invigorating “Hand in Mine” a passionate guitar driven intro groove with methodical musical build, hooky chorus and emotionally charged vocal delivery from Smith. Track 2 “On the Way” serves up another hooky groove, with melodic musical flow coupled with hooky melody and impressive Celtic Violin against a Celtic-Pop-Rock ambience. Track 3 “We are One” shifts gears with its warm methodical intro eventually lending itself into an infectious melody with thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of The Fray, Counting Crows, Clannad, 2002, Celtic Sprint, Capercallie, Anuna, The Corrs. This music showcases Celtic Pop with brief splashes of Americana and Electronic Pop. Right from the start you will notice Smith and company feels quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The overall musical vibe has a nice Celtic-Pop feel to it. Music is at times genuine, gripping, melodic, poppy and hooky with pockets of hope shining through. The Celtic fretwork is world class across the board as Smith and company dish out impressive and rock steady plating and musicianship that stays in the Pop fairway. Also present are rock solid rhythm guitar playing, impressive Violin, piano, and well placed electric guitar ambience, Bag Pipes against a thick as a brick rhythm section. The musicianship from all the other members in the band has everything you would expect from a standard 5 piece Americana-Celtic-Folk band. Kudos goes out to the amazing Fiddle work from Roberta Rast - she's amazing. Smith’s got a solid folksy vocal timbre and is full of passion and recklessness abandon. Smith's got good vocal instincts within each movement he displays an impressive vibrato, power and inviting timbre throughout. Smith and company are gifted songwriters, and storytellers. The songwriting is brilliant and provides a lot of musical variety and striking, powerful emotions and subject matter that personifies the human condition. The songs themselves are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. From melodic “Lion Ring” and "The Challenger" to impassioned “Sometimes The Night is Wrong” to impassioned “Change Your Mind” to hypnotic “10 TONS” to striking "Borrowed Wings" this 11 track CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “Love Brews” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. I really like the cover art as well.
It’s hard to find any solid weaknesses with this production. The CD is a bit short with 11 Tracks. Perhaps 3-4 more tracks are needed to make it a fully loaded release. I wish there were more solo segments throughout. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. Perhaps The Klildares should steer their sound more in a Modern Country direction to enhance marketability. They could do this without compromising their amazing Celtic Musical foundation they have in place. I can barely hear the amazing solo guitar on "The Challenger." Can Roberta Rast sing? Perhaps bring her voice to the table to mix up the vocal delivery between her sizzling fiddle segments. A female vocal delivery would bump this band up a few notches. I also wish there was 1 or 2 really slow songs on the catalog. Lastly the cover art ironically lacks creativity and a message compatible with the title. This is clearly a marketing misstep at best.
In close "Steal The Sky" by The Killdares delivers an impressive, passionate, impassioned, hooky 11 song release. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and highly entertaining – and clearly prove Smith and the gang are on to something special here. At the end of the day The Killdares are a surging Americana/Celtic band for a reason - possessing an infectious pop personality clearly worthy of worldwide recognition. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on them over the years to come.