Not quite an album, but more than an EP, Carousel marks Beoga’s first release since 2016’s Before We Change Our Mind.
Although Beoga have been touring and recording for what seems like ages, they picked up a lot of new fans after collaborating with Ed Sheeran on his blockbuster album ÷ and a subsequent appearance with the ginger popster on the main stage at Glastonbury. That is perhaps not that surprising given that they have traditionally focused more on finding catchy licks and hooks in their music rather than lengthy, intricate instrumental pieces.
The five-piece sound works for Beoga with Sean Og Graham on guitar, Damian McKee (accordion), Eamon Murray (percussion), Liam Bradley (keys) and Niamh Dunne (fiddle and vocals). Each take their turn to shine over the course of the seven tracks.
As with the Sheeran experience, there are a lot of collaborations on Carousel and Sheeran gets a credit for the lyrics of ‘Matthew’s Daughter,’ sung on the album by Devin Dawson. The album opens with Ryan McMullan’s vocals on the mid-tempo ‘Make a Mark’ and we also get appearances from Foy Vance (‘We’re Blood’) and Niall McCabe (‘Homebird’). The Foy Vance track seems strangely subdued and the vocal production distorts Vance’s soulful and bluesy voice into something that is not quite recognizable.
The title track, ‘Carousel,’ is a fairly accurate summation of the band’s approach; a jaunty and foot-tappingly catchy number where everything comes together and the whole appears to be greater than the sun of the parts. The same could be said for ‘Aurora II,’ although this track is an altogether more laid-back and chilled piece of music.
‘In A Rocket’ is maybe the headline track from the collection. Lissie’s vocals seem to suit the up-beat and forward-looking, summery sound of the track. It’s a song with a great rhythm overlaid by some lovely accordion courtesy of Damian McKee and Lissie’s vocals are (as always) worth paying attention to.
Overall, an accessible and approachable release from a talented bunch of musicians and with a quality roster of guest artists.
Not quite an album but more than an EP
Not quite trad but more than pop
Not quite mainstream but more than easy listening
Not quite Ulaid or The Olllam but more than Clannad