Hard and the Easy

The Hard and the Easy

4.0 2
by Great Big Sea
     
 

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If you think you've figured out Great Big Sea's formula, you're right: take sea shanties, fishing songs, and the odd original tune that sounds like a folk song and deliver them all with lusty energy on acoustic instruments. If the Pogues had come from Newfoundland and treated alcohol as a peripheral rather

Overview

If you think you've figured out Great Big Sea's formula, you're right: take sea shanties, fishing songs, and the odd original tune that sounds like a folk song and deliver them all with lusty energy on acoustic instruments. If the Pogues had come from Newfoundland and treated alcohol as a peripheral rather than a central concern, and if their singer were big and burly rather than dissolute and disgusting, you'd have something very much like Great Big Sea. That formula has been pretty consistent over the preceding 13 years, so how much you'll enjoy their ninth album will depend largely on how much you enjoyed their first eight, although there is a difference: this one relies less on fishing and seafaring songs and more on songs that reflect other traditional concerns of the Newfoundlanders, such as lumbering, adultery, and, er, counting. OK, most of them are still about fishing and seafaring. And there's nothing wrong with that. "Captain Kidd" may be familiar, but they deliver it with such gusto that it sounds new again; "Come and I Will Sing You (The Twelve Apostles)" is a fun counting song that apparently has its roots in medieval Europe, and "Graceful & Charming (Sweet Forget Me Not)" is as touching a sentimental ballad as you're ever likely to hear. Alan Doyle's voice is as regular-guy mediocre as ever, but the trio's harmonies still roar attractively and they play with infectious glee. The package includes a DVD with interview footage, some back-porch jamming, and what looks like a sort of community hall get-together. Very nice.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/2005
Label:
Zoe Records
UPC:
0601143108020
catalogNumber:
431080

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Great Big Sea   Primary Artist
Murray Foster   Bass,Vocals
Alan Doyle   Bouzouki,Guitar,Mandolin,Percussion,Vocals,Tenor Banjo
Bob Hallett   Bouzouki,Fiddle,Mandolin,Accordion,Concertina,Vocals,Human Whistle,Tenor Banjo
Sean McCann   Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Bodhran
Kris MacFarlane   Percussion,Drums,Snare Drums
Tom Doyle   Vocals
Con O'Brien   Vocals
Barry Canning   Vocals
Fergus O'Byrne   5-string Banjo
Frank Maher   Harmonica
Kalem Mahoney   Vocals

Technical Credits

Sean McCann   Producer
Alan Doyle   Producer
Bob Hallett   Producer,Liner Notes
Spencer Crewe   Engineer
Hammond Scott   Engineer

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The Hard and the Easy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Instead of a mix of folk and pop, Great Big Sea's "The Hard and the Easy" is all folk. Making every track a folk song was an interesting choice, particularly since "Something Beautiful" was criticized so much for being being almost all pop. Some fans felt the band had left their roots. IF that was ever true, they've returned to those same roots in force in "The Hard the the Easy". Folk songs are what Great Big Sea does best and they do them very well here. From love songs to a countryman's scrapes to a sailor's roguish behavior, the simple words and stories help me imagine what old Newfoundland life was all about and the stories and songs people found entertaining. It's a fun listen that will make you laugh. You won't want to skip any of the tracks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Playing Time – 41:16 -- It was about twenty years ago that some students studying English and folklore met at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Their bands like Newfoundland Republican Army and Rankin Street eventually evolved in 1993 into Great Big Sea with multi-instrumentalists Alan Doyle, Séan McCann, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power. Darrell has since left the group, replaced by Toronto-area native Murray Foster. From Pictou County, Kris MacFarlane is the fifth member of Great Big Sea and plays drums and percussion. During the band’s 15 years, they’ve produced nine albums that blend traditional and contemporary approaches to folk music, always with copious amount of imagery and emotional sentiment. This release, however, takes the new approach of being all-acoustic. With a seafaring theme, many of their songs on “The Hard and the Easy” immediately draw you in for interaction with humorous lyrics and catchy melodies. Arrangements are given rousing pub-song presentation, and listeners who like songs about the flowing bowl in a more relaxed style might actually prefer to explore the material of a duo like William Pint and Felicia Dale. “Harbour Lecou” and “Cod Liver Oil” are the types of stories that they can so evocatively tell. Great Big Sea’s lineup includes six guests on 5-string banjo, harmonica, and vocals. It would be hard to not sing along on “Captain Kidd,” which features Fergus O’Byrne’s banjo. It might’ve been rather interesting to invite a guest to play some hurdy gurdy on a bounding tune like this. The down-home, earthy side of the band, along with a bit of bawdiness, is best captured in “The Mermaid,” a song I’ve heard entertainers like Alex Beaton cover. Frank Maher’s harmonica provides expressive fill for the sentimental ballad, “Graceful & Charming (Sweet Forget-Me-Not).” It’s a bit of an extreme segue to the next cut, “Concerning Charlie Horse,” which is back into a pub-song mode. The liner notes don’t identify exactly who is singing on which cuts. Great Big Sea’s instrumental prowess is best captured in “Tishialuk Girls Set” that begins with low whistle before making a genesis into an accordion and fiddle-driven dance music and song. If one is more interested in their original material, look for their 2004 album, “Something Beautiful.” Somewhat of a concept album. “The Hard and the Easy” captures the joy and delight of their region’s unique musical canon. Besides having obvious personal affection for these songs, the band members also know that the playful tunes are solid crowd pleasers. There are plenty of references to history, life, labor and love. One would be hard-pressed to not be pleased with renditions of the tongue-twisting “Come and I Will Sing You,” the somber “River Driver,” or the poignant “Tickle Cove Pond.” The album’s title comes from words mentioned in the latter, part ballad and part chantey that tells the story of falling through ice and losing a trusted horse. “The hard and the easy, we take as they come …” epitomizes the band’s undaunted attitude about success and perseverance. In addition, a DVD that comes with the album shows Alan, Bob and Sean talking about their songs, reflecting on their region’s musical traditions, and singing the songs in relaxed, informal fashion. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, OR)