For nearly thirty years, Rawlins Cross have proven they can hold their fans’ attention. After a seven-year hiatus, the excitement around their newest album, ‘Rock Steady,’ has grown to incomprehensible proportions. That’s not hyperbole either; we’ve seen the numbers, and it has left us wondering, “Who are Rawlins Cross, and where did they get an army?”
Celtic rock is hardly anything new to the east coast. Rather, it’s the opposite. We’ve got a music industry that was founded on the stuff, and it fits almost integrally into our tourism backbone. “Seafood and fiddles,” the brochures might say (though we try not to). Think Natalie Macmaster, Ashley MacIsaac, Shanneyganock, The Irish Descendants, The Rankin Family, The Barra MacNeils, Great Big Sea and, if you hadn’t heard of them before, Rawlins Cross.
Thirty years is a long time to be collecting fans, and the ones that have stuck with them are fervent. A seven year hiatus isn’t going to shake them.
Co-produced by the nearly omnipresent Jon Landry (The Stanfields) and Rawlins Cross’ own Geoff Panting (keyboards and accordion), the album is being released via GroundSwell Music.
“The first single from the new album is a tune written by our lead singer Joey Kitson, called ‘Hold You Tonight’,” says Ian Mackinnon, Rawlins Cross’ team piper and tin whistle engineer.
“Through the 27-year history of Rawlins Cross, the lion’s share of the song writing was done by the Panting brothers. In recent years, however, Joey has been writing songs and this one is a gem.”
The single gave excited fans something to run with and served as a little pick-me-up after so many years of silence. The tender tune sings about longing for a night of forbidden love with an old flame. It’s subversive. Whatever you think of it, it sneaks in. It doesn’t leave.
Less ominously, the album opens with the title track, ‘Rock Steady.’ The concept of Celtic dad-rock isn’t that far fetched, but its semblance to a B-52’s song featuring bagpipes is uncanny and handily saves it by a perverse love for both. The heart wants what the heart wants, alright?
‘Long Have We Travelled’ gives off strange hybrid vibes. If you’ll pardon the inevitable tin whistle comparison, it’s as though ‘November Rain‘ has been composed as the theme of Titanic instead of Celine Dion’s epic ‘My Heart Will Go On’. It builds on a pretty somber tone and honestly works pretty well, but that drawn out intro before hitting it hard with the solo will be familiar to fans of the Guns N’ Roses hit.
‘Can’t Get You Outta My Mind’ gives a fun Celtic twist on an upbeat blues-rock vibe, though incredulously describes an impossible seduction via postcard, letter, mobile and fax. Nobody has ever been seduced by fax—at least not since the early 90s.
Weird comparisons and anachronistic love songs aside, Rawlins Cross’ sixth song Rock Steady is going to be a hit with fans.