The Turning Tide


If there’s a better Celtic band than Solas, I haven’t heard ’em, and I’ve been listening to Celtic music for decades. When your name is O’Neill, it’s the law. The Turning Tide is the latest album, and the band is touring behind that new offering. The group made a stop here last Monday, April 12, at the Sierra Nevada Big Room, and those of us lucky enough to have been in the audience for that show got a pretty good sampling of where the band is now. If you’ve heard this new collection, you either made it a point to be there for the live show, or you’re wishing you could have been there. Solas is a great ensemble evoking a rich musical heritage. But keeping Celtic music fresh is a daunting task. Even for those of us who feel it in the blood, there’s a certain predictability to the form, from jigs to airs to reels. Ever since Solas put out its first CD 14 years ago, the members have been honoring the tradition while finding ways to keep it fresh. You don’t have to be a Flanagan or an O’Neill to like Solas. Mairéad Phelan joined the band a couple years ago, and her vocals alone make its new CD worth owning. Rap artist Timbaland sampled one of its songs for a number called “All Y’all,” and Solas can claim Bela Fleck and Emmy Lou Harris among its fans. And me, too, of course. But that’s the law.