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Music Review - `Kieran Ridge and the Moonrakers` by Keiran Ridge (dmac)

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

 16 October 2021



This self-titled album from Kieran Ridge & The Moonrakers is the first one for Ridge in this new band configuration. His previous three albums were tracked by The Kieran Ridge Band. Ridge sings these songs while playing guitar, and is backed by Hannah Rose on fiddle, Liam Dailey on mandolin and banjo, Pat Hannafin on drums and percussion, and Michael Doughty on bass. The album is a mix of various styles of music, ranging from Celtic sounds to country vibes. Many or these original songs sound like they’re just-discovered folk songs, as Ridge creates ‘modern’ old songs.

As a vocalist, Ridge’s voice is weathered – at best. He’s by no means any smooth operator. Even though he sometimes sounds like he’s a visitor from the past at times, he does sing about getting on a train in Boston (his real current hometown) for a journey to New Orleans during “To Get Back Home.” The Moonrakers give us some sweet country sounds with “Straight To The Heart Of Love.” Featuring wonderful fiddle work, this one has a Dylan-y quality to it. Its title even reads like something Dylan might write. “Blind In Time” also nicely utilizes acoustic guitar picking as well as mandolin and more fiddling. On it, Ridge comes off about as woebegone as Tom Waits. 

“Wasted” is as close as Kieran Ridge & The Moonrakers get to honest-to-goodness rock and roll. It’s built upon a propulsive acoustic guitar part and upfront drums. Furthermore, Ridge sings it with a little gravel in his voice. This one also includes fiddling, but it sounds like a rock band with a fiddler in it, rather than an instrumentalist a little out of place. 

The album closes with a slow and quiet one called “Close Your Eyes.” If sports Ridge’s gentlest vocal. Once again, fiddling drives its melody. It’s a song to sing at the end of a long day. Even the end of your worst day requires you to get some rest. It’s a little bit like a lullaby, even though it’s an adult’s song. “The battle is over until morning,” Ridge reminds us. Far too often, many of us continue to wage battles in our minds overnight, when we can’t physically do anything to improve our lot. However, we all need a break. We can’t live to fight another day until we get ourselves a good night’s rest. This is a smart way to finish an album, as well. Many albums are lyrical wars against various demons, with each song representing a different battle. Once an album’s done, though, it’s time to put down our musical weapons and just give it a break. What more can you do? Just close your eyes and get some shuteye. There will be other battles, other days.

You may not think of Boston as an Americana music hotbed, but Kieran Ridge & the Moonrakers are by no means lone rangers. Acts like Lake Street Dive come immediately to mind, for example. Then there’s the whole Irish American scene there, which is a world all by itself. With his world weary and world worn singing voice, Kieran Ridge is an authentic practitioner of powerful roots music, and this self-titled album is a fine representation of his soulful music.


Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh


Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio,, Country Standard Time and 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here


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