Great Big Sea
Safe Upon the Shore
The 10th album in Newfoundland-based Great Big Sea’s 17-year career, Safe Upon the Shore continues the band’s blend of playful, edgy pop and driving, tradition-based Celtic folk, adding washboard, trombone and slide guitar to their trademark acoustic guitar, banjo, pipes, bodhrán, and tight vocal harmonies. Think Flogging Molly meets the Clancy Brothers meet the Lovin’ Spoonful. Front man Alan Doyle, who played Russell Crowe’s hard-drinking musical merryman Allan A’Dayle in Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood, leads his mates through 14 original songs. Highlights include “Yankee Sailor,” whose narrator, “poor and terrified,” laments losing his girl to an American at a dance, the night he “sailed into the harbor;” the Crowe co-written Pogues-ish “My Wandering Ways” (“Farewell to the whiskey, tobacco and smoke, farewell to the rum and occasional coke”); and the gorgeous, traditional-sounding a capella title song about a girl waiting by the shore for her love to return “safe upon the shore” (he returns, but far from safe). GBS, who rarely tour the West Coast, play the Cascade Theatre in Redding on March 16, and I’ve got tickets to see them the next night (St. Paddy’s Day!) in Carmel by the (Great Big) Sea.