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FOUR MEN AND A DOG "Maybe Tonight" Hook Records Hook002

The boys are back! Cathal, Gerry, Gino and Kevin are joined by several guests including Mairtin O'Connor and former Dogs Donal Murphy and Arty McGlynn. Maybe it's their new-found maturity, or maybe it's a cunning marketing ploy, but with this recording they're bursting back onto the scene in a more low-key style than I'd anticipated. They're still a long way from chill-out land, and fans of their masterful mix of Celtic fire and transatlantic vibes will not be disappointed by Maybe Tonight.

The album opens with a slightly restrained bash through the ever-popular Music for a Found Harmonium, then the first of three songs by Kevin Doherty lays the foundations for the funkier side of things. Mairtin's virtuoso box takes us on Rambles in Russia, combining influences from Gagarin to Galway, next comes the first set of reels and things begin to hot up as Gerry O'Connor unleashes his banjo. The title track shows Kevin Doherty in super-relaxed mood, the polka Barlow's Knife picks up the pace a bit, and the high octane diesel finally kicks in on Leslie's March. Interestingly, Gerry's back on banjo and Gino Lupari makes his first appearance now. Gino's considerable presence continues on Midnight Special, a fitting vehicle for the band's tasty fun and games, and another high point. A pair of spirited instrumentals bring us close to the end, with a lovely tight sound on some West Kerry classics before the lads gather speed through a trio of well-known reels. The final scene starts with Kevin boogying on down to an arrangement that includes the kitchen sink and even the Hammond organ, then our heroes ride off into the sunset to the strains of The Last Rose of Summer. In jig time.

It's great to have them back, no question. A bit more flash banjo wouldn't hurt, though, and more of Mr Lupari too (you know what I mean). Still no sign of the dog either. That aside, Maybe Tonight is a first-rate album full of class and more than worth the money

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.