Those of you who can't help but tap your foot when you catch Riverdance on PBS or find you enjoy a good story about dear ol' Ireland told by harmonizing male vocals should grab your wallet, walk to your local record store, and buy the self-titled debut album of The High Kings. And bring your Discman: You'll be clogging your way home.
Best known for performing with the Irish moguls of traditional Celtic music, Celtic Woman, The High Kings are redefining the classic sound of Irish folk songs. The album boasts a wide array of narrative songs, from a powerful rendition of "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore," which is an old song about coming to America by boat, to "Galway to Graceland" about a woman who leaves her home in Ireland to "be with the King" in Graceland. The stories in each song range from traditional to contemporary and tragic to campy, but the four group members pull off this vast selection of song themes purely because their vocals are that good.
Discovering where their talent and love of music come from doesn't take much—Finbarr Clancy is the son of Bobby Clancy from the Clancy Brothers, Martin Furey's father is renowned Irish piper and singer Finbar Furey, Brian Dunphy is the son of famed Irish musician Sean Dunphy, and Darren Holden has written and performed music with top songwriters and toured for several years with Riverdance as a solo vocalist.
Although some songs fall decisively in the cheesy category—such as "Fields of Glory," which sounds at first to be a war song with lines like "on the fields where boys become men," but turns out to be about soccer—the powerful harmonies and energetic instrumentation make The High Kings debut album worth mixing into your play list.