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Music Review - 'Kieran Ridge and The Moonrakers' by Kieran Ridge(jh)

Kieran Ridge and The Moonrakers (click on image to watch video)

26 October 2021 


Kieran Ridge is a singer-songwriter from the Boston area who is delivering is fourth album, but the first with this band, dubbed The Moonrakers.  The previous releases carried the name Kiernan Ridge Band.  One would guess this band hails from the Carolinas rather than Boston though, given the instrumentation of fiddles, mandolin, and banjo although they do have a drummer. Naturally their vintage sound owes more to Celtic and European folk than Appalachia but maintains a similar traditional feel. Kieran is the guitarist and lead vocalist, accompanied by Hannah Rose on fiddle, Liam Dailey on mandolin and banjo, Pat Hannafin on drums and percussion, and Michael Doughty on bass.

Ridge’s weathered voice is a perfect match for these “old” sounding songs. Kicking off with “The Last One To Know,” the listener feels as if transported to a front porch singalong where the bottle is passed around. The song, after all, mentions whiskey more than a few times and is driven principally, as are several, by Baker’s fiddle such as the Celtic flavored “Killing Time.”  The tempo eases with the folk and three-part harmonies on “Somewhere On the Edge of Town,” another with an Irish pub kind of singalong vibe. It’s one of several traveling songs, followed in kind by “To Get Back Home,” a slow blues-like stomper where he talks about boarding a train in Boston bound for New Orleans. 

There’s a loose, fiddle-driven country quality to “Straight to the Heart of Love” while “Three Sheets to the Wind, Five Miles From Home” basically conveys that we have no choice but to deal with fate’s sometimes troubling hand. For his part, as he does throughout, he acts unfazed and carefree. “Fear of Flying” is a upbeat tune where his gleeful tone masks the frustration of dealing with an elusive relationship, a theme he carries into “You Drifting Heart,” imbued by Dailey’s mandolin. “Blind In Time” also nicely utilizes acoustic guitar picking as well as mandolin and more fiddling, and like “Somewhere on the Edge of Town,” sounds like a coffee house kind of song where he could deliver it alone, accompanied by just his guitar.

“Wasted” is the lone rock n’ roll song on them album, evoking to some extent, Dylan’s work with fiddler Scarlet Rivera. This one, though carries a softer edge with vocal harmonies and no electric instruments. This is either a carefree man or one too messed up to care as the chorus exclaims, “If it rains, let the rain all down on me.”  The closing “Close Your Eyes” is a gentle quasi-lullaby, another in his theme of letting go of that which one cannot control.

The raw, loose quality of the album can allow for reflection and comfort, the same themes that Ridge is singing about in his straight-forward songs.


Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here


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