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TODD MENTON - Rosie In The Stars

TODD MENTON - Rosie In The Stars
New Folk Records NFR2262

Minnesota native Todd is probably best known to readers for his long-time membership of award-winning punk-folk outfit Boiled In Lead, although he’s also been active on the solo front, having so far chalked up three albums on his own since 2002. Rosie In The Stars is the successor to 2008’s The Dolmen Field, and finds Todd following the Pied Piper muse of electric folk-rock through a dozen tracks of predominantly traditional songs and tunes with two choice original compositions thrown in (Johnny Come Away, a fun ballad involving lost love, an apparition and flying saucers, and the gentler Rosie, “a dream song for Dublin”).

On just over half of the album, Todd’s forthright singing and guitar, harmonica and bodhrán playing is backed by a trusty, heavy-duty electric guitar, bass and drums combo (Steve Lehto, John Wright and Matt Jacobs) that thrusts ahead in an admirably unplodding fashion while retaining a measure of necessary sensitivity. The Glendalough Saint (from the singing of Brendan Behan) and Telecasted shanty Rio Grande both come off well, but it’s even better when Todd brings in Pat McCormick’s uilleann pipes and a guest singer (Susan Esbjornson) on The Tan Yard Side, which is then topped with a tumbling acoustic-guitar instrumental coda (the slide Rathawaun). The remaining tracks present Todd in solo mode, with straightforward acoustic versions of The Outlandish Knight and Molly Bawn (pleasing enough but not outstanding), a set of reels played on mandolin and bodhrán-accompanied renditions of Soldier Will You Marry Me and the shanty, Hog-Eye Man.

Altogether, a likeable record that proves there’s still plenty of life in the hoary old folk-rock dog yet.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.