As someone who deals with generic descriptions on an almost hourly basis, I am usually fairly cynical of them. You see that a band who have elected to use the term “cinematic indie” and you know that that is just wishful thinking and they are probably going to sound like the tracks that Oasis never pursued beyond demo recordings. So I see the term Celtic Soul/Country Swing and I’m thinking if this lives up to the expectation of such a combination I will eat my hat!
One hat later (hint: use a sharp knife and a lot of ketchup) and I’m thinking, as someone who deals with generic descriptions on an almost hourly basis, those four words are probably the most perfect summation of Ewan Macintyre’s sound. If you are thinking that the term Celtic Soul immediately conjures impressions of Van Morrison, that isn’t a bad place to start, that same blend of discerning sonic choices, and immediacy and infectiousness runs right through the album. Ewan’s diction and delivery make things more accessible and unlike Van the Grumpy Man, you feel that you wouldn’t get the urge to cross the street to avoid him.
If you are the sort of person who likes to unravel songs, take a look under the bonnet and see what’s going on, and sadly I am that person, you are rewarded with a very diverse range of sounds but the art, as always, is how well those sounds, styles and genres are put together. With Road Junkie you can’t even see the joins. Lucita is a blend of uptown swing and Celtic fiddle grooves, Mondays exists at that point where Old World folk meets New World Bluegrass, Champagne in Heaven is straight out of a soul revue and Going Nowhere is an ethereal country ballad.
And it is these musical pay offs, and indeed play-offs between the slick, sophistication of urban sounds and the rawer and jauntier nature of the roots elements that provide the dynamic spectrum that the album explores. Cowboy campfire sounds immersed in soulful attire, Celtic grooves meets jazz bar crooning, ragged folkiness frolicking with the uptown and the urbane.
As always when worlds collide, the result is devastating, that remains true here. Road Junkie is devastatingly clever, devastatingly gorgeous and devastatingly original.