The Waterboys: Rock in the Weary Land

By Russell Baillie

(BMG)

Herald rating: * * *

Review: Russell Baillie

Despite the return to Waterboys’ moniker, main man Mike Scott is effectively a solo entity and a slow-moving one at that — this is his first album in six years having spent much of the 80s and early 90s dodging “New Van Morrison” labels with his brand of Celtic-folksy bogrock.

Just as U2’s last was a return to things epic, so is this, with Scott offering a boisterous barrage of his trademark big music, albeit with some conservative moves into the world of percussion loops and samples.

That can certainly swerve towards the preposterous, especially in the the final track Crown and We Are Jonah, a veritable beached whale of a song.

But there are plenty of occasions when the melody and dynamics and Scott’s studied vocals and lyrics add up to something special.

The title track with its gospel-assisted chorus is a good example, as is the ballad Is She Conscious, as well as the exciting distorted blast that is Dumbing Down the World.

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