Wexford People

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Tennessee Vikings send important email to Jesus


Joe Keeling (right) pictured with Mick Egan who recorded the album

Joe Keeling (right) pictured with Mick Egan who recorded the album

Joe Keeling (right) pictured with Mick Egan who recorded the album

When it comes to original music county Wexford has never been short of formidable talent.

It's arguable there isn't another county in the country that could claim to have given birth to as large a pool of excellent songwriters and bands over the years.

One of those acts is the Tennessee Vikings, which is the channel for songwriter Joe Keeling.

The band has just released an album called 'Send An Email To Jesus'.

The CD showcases a number of different influences but the Americana tinged hint of Bob Dylan is immediately evident with opening track, '99%'.

All the songs on the album were written by Keeling - who also plays guitar and sings all lead vocals.

However, he is joined on the CD by a formidable line-up of musicians in the Tennessee Vikings - which is composed of: Fran Scattergood (mandolin); Stuart Burns (saxophone/melodica); Yvonne Reddy (vocals/harmony); James O'Sullivan (fiddle); Seamus Tomkins (banjo); Jack Egan (bass guitar); and Mick Egan (drums/keyboards/lead guitar).

The opening track is set to a lovely mid-tempo beat and the saxophone break makes for brilliant diversification from the normal instrumentation that would accompany this type of track.

The Dylan influence is also evident on the next track, 'Cowboy Sneactha'.

The song has a fantastic repetitive vocal line following a tempo breakdown: 'On a snow white Gretsch guitar, does your mamma know where you are?'.

The vocal melody is immensely catchy and gives the song added commercial appeal.

'Out of Trouble' takes the listener off on a blues infused, country-funk road trip and it's an immensely enjoyable ride.

The backing vocals of Yvonne Reddy are utilised in exemplary fashion on this track.

There is an earthy quality to Keeling's vocal style that screams authenticity.

Here is an artist that is obviously passionate about what he does and that comes across in both the style of the songs and their execution.

'Don't Blame It All On Dixie' is a slow lament to mankind's fascination and propensity for war.

While the title might invoke images of cotton fields and slavery in the deep south there are also references to Native Americans, other indigenous people and World War II.

It's a fantastic song that also focusses attention on modern day capitalist greed.

On the track Keeling proclaims himself to be a 'Viking from the south Irish sea' but there is no doubt the message in the song is about global issues.

'Drum Kit' is a straight forward rockabilly workout and fantastic because of it.

There are some genres that cross boundaries and their influence can be found in many other music styles and rockabilly is one such genre.

From country and blues to rock the effect that well known acts from the 50s and early 60s had on world music cannot be overstated.

Fans of classic George Thorogood will find plenty of satisfaction in this particular track.

'Edge of My Heart' showcases the more personal side of Keeling's songwriting.

In essence a love song, it's set to a lovely mid-tempo accompaniment that is capped with some fantastic intricate guitar lines.

The album's title track is one of the standout songs on the CD.

'Send an email to Jesus because I need a gun..' begins the lyric and from there the listener is taken on an exploration of blue collar crime and social exploitation.

The saxophone is, again, used to very good effect and there are hints of Van Morrison to the track that adds to its overall appeal.

'Your Eyes' is a Steve Earle styled offering albeit with Keeling's own inimitable style stamped all over it while 'Martin Guitar and John Prine' is a storyteller song very much in the vein of the latter named songwriting legend.

There is an authentic, earthiness to the song that makes for very interesting listening and the chorus, in particular, is very strong.

'Just For Love' is another love song and introduces keyboard accompaniment to a great overall musical arrangement.

The album was recorded and engineered by Mick Egan and sonically, there is a clarity to the CD that gives each instrument room to breathe.

Another standout song is 'Dark Side of My Gun' on which the mandolin is allowed to sit relatively high in the mix.

The accompaniment contains repetitive guitar riffs that enhance the songs overall appeal.

'Hey Babe' is a jazzy number that invokes images of a late night, smoky bar room in a Parisian and New York backstreet while 'Send a Raven' gives off an altogether different vibe complete with shuffle beat and prominent mandolin accompaniment.

'Voodoo Tattoo' brings the album to a close and does so in exemplary fashion.

The songs begins in a distinctly Sade style manner and provides an ideal way to ease things to a close.

It's a fitting end to a very impressive body of work.

Commenting on the album to this newspaper Keeling himself said songs are to him stories.

'When writing new material, I always write them as I would a short story,' he said.

Complimenting the musicians involved in the project he said it wouldn't have been possible without their help.

The artwork for the album was created by Keeling's brother, Nicky, and visually makes quite an impact.

This is an album that any discerning music fan would be proud to have in his or her collection and if the email does reach Jesus it wouldn't be a bad thing if the entire world was 'cc'd' with the message.

Wexford People