Hour Before Dawn

The Hour Before Dawn

5.0 1
by Solas
     
 
A trans-Atlantic Celtic band of the highest caliber, Solas triumph once again with their verve, clarity, and sheer cool on The Hour Before the Dawn. For this fourth album, they acquire the formidable talents of Deirdre Scanlan, the All-Ireland Champion Vocalist of 1999. She makes a thoroughly graceful entry into the band's exuberant Gaelic dance songs and

Overview

A trans-Atlantic Celtic band of the highest caliber, Solas triumph once again with their verve, clarity, and sheer cool on The Hour Before the Dawn. For this fourth album, they acquire the formidable talents of Deirdre Scanlan, the All-Ireland Champion Vocalist of 1999. She makes a thoroughly graceful entry into the band's exuberant Gaelic dance songs and conscience-stirring ballads. Scanlan even takes a crack at founder Seamus Egan's "I Will Remember You," which landed a Grammy for Sarah McLachlan on The Brothers McMullen soundtrack. Is there a Gaelic word for chutzpah? The girl's definitely got it. The most exciting music here is instrumental, however. John Doyle's irresistible rhythm guitar drives their jigs and reels, while Winifred Horan's heart-string violin on the haunting "A Little Child" is matched only by the simple plaint of Mick McAuley on piano accordion. Egan's "Homeless" is an audio short subject -- restless, graceful, and oddly hopeful. And when the crew gets down to playing as a full ensemble, it's an inspiring affair -- precise, joyous, and always light of touch.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Evan Cater
As the title suggests, The Hour Before Dawn is a mellower album than any of Solas' three previous efforts. The record is weighted toward the soft and reflective, successfully evoking musically the quiet sunrise atmosphere captured in Didem Atahan's beautiful cover design. "A Little Child," for instance, is a lovely slow air that gives talented fiddler Winifred Horan an expressive solo. "When My Love and I Parted" is hauntingly rendered with wailing strings. Even the union ballad "A Miner's Life," a song that might have been played with more verve on the earlier records, is given a very fetching mellow treatment centered around a rare lead vocal performance by guitarist John Doyle. The new mood is a welcome change of pace from the other records, which tended to vary little in tone from one to the next. And even in the quietest tracks, the arrangements are always inventive and detailed, a hallmark of the Solas style. But one can't help missing the explosive dynamism of past efforts. There is no "Maid on the Shore," "Pastures of Plenty," or "Song of Choice," songs that allowed the band to kick into a high-octane performance style unmatched by any of its Celtic peers. The band's song selections are also a little more conservative here than on The Words That Remain, which featured a few experiments with American folk. The one (admittedly significant) exception is "I Will Remember You," a Solas-ized version of the hit pop song that Solas leader Seamus Egan wrote with Sarah McLachlan. It is performed charmingly by new lead vocalist Deirdre Scanlan, who is perhaps not as distinctive or as remarkable a singer as the departed Karan Casey, but nonetheless provides a lovely foundation for the masterful musicianship of her colleagues. The cover, like much of The Hour Before Dawn, reveals new facets of the band's sound. This shouldn't be the only Solas record in your collection, but it's a must-have for serious Celtic music enthusiasts.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/10/2000
Label:
Shanachie
UPC:
0016351784124
catalogNumber:
78041
Rank:
18652

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Solas   Primary Artist
Seamus Egan   Banjo,Flute,Mandolin,Percussion,Whistle (Instrument),Bodhran,Guitar (Nylon String)
Michael Aharon   Piano,Electric Bass,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Hammond Organ,Background Vocals
John Anthony   Percussion,Drums
Karan Casey   Vocals
John Doyle   Guitar
Ben Wittman   Percussion
Winifred Horan   Fiddle,Background Vocals
Chico Huff   Electric Bass
Mick McAuley   Piano,Accordion,Concertina,Vocals,Background Vocals,Whistle (Instrument),Button Accordion

Technical Credits

Seamus Egan   Composer,Producer
Sarah McLachlan   Composer
Michael Aharon   Programming
John Anthony   Arranger,Engineer
Winifred Horan   Arranger
Solas   Arranger
Dave Merenda   Composer

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The Hour Before Dawn 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantastically Celtic, a real joy to listen. Even if you don't understand the lyrics to the Gaelic song ''Bheadh Buachallin Deas Ag Sile'' (though there is a translation in the lyrics booklet), you'll still find yourself signing and tapping to the tune. ''The Last Of The Great Whales'' brought tears to my eye, and filled my soul listening to it. Reeling jigs such as ''Granny Quinn's/The Lilac Reel/Sporting Pat'' gets your toes a tapping, and can't resist the urge to break out in dance. The lighthearted ''Bonnie Mae'', originally written back in the days of Mary, Queen of Scots, shows that Solas can do a wide range of songs, including a wonderful re-mix of Sarah McLachlan's ''I Will Remember You''. The vocals and insrtuments all come together to make one fantastic album, in which words cannot begin to describe it.