I had the rare pleasure of seeing Celtic Cross not once but twice in the last seven days. The band’s long-awaited follow-up to the award-winning Shores of America was derailed when their Hoboken recording studio was flooded following Hurricane Sandy, so they’re taking the time to road test the new songs in front of a rapturous audience.
“I think everyone is overly ready for some new material,” jokes singer Kathleen Fee. “Everything has been positive and digging the new stuff. It’s been fun. Having this studio delay allows us to work out the kinks so that we will bang out the rest of the album quickly.”
One of the standouts from their new album will surely be “One Last Party,” a countrified rocker inspired by a trip Fee took to Ireland with her mother.
“Her birthplace sat dormant for five years and we went there to clean it up,” Fee explains. “When the work was done we threw one big party to send the house off properly!”
“Climbed through the kitchen window/To the house that I adored/It was just how we had left it/Jimmy's hat behind the door/On the wall the sacred heart/woodbines on the floor,” she sings about the house that “stood two stories but a thousand it could tell.”
Easily their best work, the song is evocative of the band’s innate ability to capture the Irish American experience so clearly and universally.
“I’m surprised with how well people are connecting with that song in a powerful way,” Fee’s brother Ken Vesey says.
“I think Irish and Irish Americans can identify with making that trip back to the homeland and seeing the old house falling away like that. Though I love the new songs, I am partial to the jams we are doing as well because I am a trad fiddle player. The audience reaction to those has been amazing as well.”
Frankie McCormick (All-Ireland Scor winner), and brothers Ken (All-Ireland fiddle champion) and John (three time North American accordion champion) Vesey have a bushel of Irish music awards between them.
Their mastery of instrumentation is on full display during “Monster Jam,” a hot stop-on-a-dime instrumental that is the sonic equivalent of a hair dryer to the face. The chemistry onstage with the band is jovial in most spots, but the lads get ferocious when they lean into their instruments to produce the sparks!
The entire band had a hand in songwriting this time around, including the shy McCormick. The Tyrone native came to America in 1986 and grew up amidst The Troubles and hunger strikes in his teens. His father sent him over to America to save him from the bloodshed.
“Kathleen has been fascinated with that story and she started to type some lyrics into her Blackberry during these 4 a.m. bar chats we’d have,” he explains.
“After a while, I became more comfortable talking about it I suppose, and I decided to tell my story myself.” His track features some rapping and will be produced by Black 47’s Larry Kirwan.
Keep your eyes peeled here for news on the new CD. To find out where the band will be next, visit www.celticcross.com