With all the desperate news about Irish government mismanagement, it is shocking to me that the song “We Want Blood” by the Mighty Stef hasn’t supplanted the national anthem. It’s one of those infinitely hummable, clear-eyed songs of uprising like Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” that comes along once in a blue moon.
“Well, I’m drunk as a parish priest at the lies that you told us/sick to the f***ing teeth at the excuses that you sold us/we want blood/wondering how low in your thoughts you might hold us/we want blood,” Stef croaks above a strummed acoustic guitar before a shuffling drum and bass arrangement brings the song to a boil.
It’s just one of the many highlights on TMS and the Baptists, the new album from one of the most original characters working the Irish music scene today.
The Mighty Stef is an unwashed, scruffy singer-songwriter producing ragged, throaty, gritty rock and roll that sounds utterly original while borrowing from classic rock icons at the same time. His low, slinky voice at phrasing reminds you of a stoned Jim Morrison in spots, especially on the repentant “Blood and Whiskey.”
The bluesy guitar riff that runs through “John the Baptist” is the kind of song that Mick Jagger could have slipped onto Beggar’s Banquet if he had thought of it first.
“I have sinned and I want redemption,” he sings as a gospel choir joins him in prayer as a barroom piano riff hints at past sins.
As the title would suggest, sinning and redemption go hand in hand on many of the tracks on TMS and the Baptists. But it’s not an easy trip to heaven, and the Mighty Stef encounters “demons that are a girl’s best friend,” especially on “Hollywood,” a broken love song to the city that features a cello solo that dances with the Stonesy riff.
There’s also plenty of talk about love. On “Georgia Girl,” he rolls around New York City, “a city that knows me well,” but his heart and lusty thoughts take him down south.
I am a huge disciple of the Mighty Stef, and its high time ye all got baptized by TMS and the Baptists. To find him online, check out www.themightystef.com.