Having been a long-time fan of the Dropkick Murphys, I consider this to be their finest album in a long time. The Murphys really have done justice to the words of Woody Guthrie, quite simply, each track on this album is a masterpiece. Not that they are complete strangers to Guthrie’s work of course, having used his lyrics to 'Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight' on the 'blackout' album and 'I’m Shipping Up To Boston' on 'The Warriors Code'. Apart from having the entire lyrics written by Woody Guthrie the album is also predominantly acoustic and sounds unlike any other Dropkick Murphys album. There is a definite country aspect to the album but crossed with a punk attitude and feel.
The Murphys are at home with Guthrie’s subject matter which includes the plight of the working man, unions and anti fascism. The first three songs open the album really strongly and are each very different in style and outstanding in their own way. Opener Two Sixes Upside Down sounds as if it has come straight from the Johnny Cash songbook, involving an unlucky gambler, a murder and long hard jail time. Second up is Talking Jukebox which has a real 50’s vibe (including twangy Duane Eddy guitar) and a very menacing feel to it which makes it a really fascinating listen. Then we have Ten Times More which sounds like a call and response army marching song and is totally different to anything the Murphys have ever done before It’s very in your face, lots of stomping and yelling,very noisy and really grabs your attention. In fact the change from their usual style is quite refreshing and gives the album a unique sound.
All You Fonies celebrates the National Maritime Union and is a celebration of union strength which is perfect subject matter for the Murphys and is relevant today in my country (UK) which is seemingly a resurgence in Union activity against the Tories. The Last One has an almost Dylanesque feel about it (especially the harmonica) and once again focuses on the working class man. Cadillac Cadillac is a real slice of Americana, what working class American man wouldn’t want to own and drive a Cadillac? There are a couple of Irish tinged numbers, specifically Never Git Drunk No More (a beautiful little drinking song that features Nikki Lane not believing Kens protestations that he’ll never touch another drop.) and Where Trouble Is at. Woody Guthrie himself puts in a small cameo appearance in the last song Dig A Hole, an anti Hitler / fascist number which also features Cole Quest, Guthrie’s grandson.
The Murphys have very obviously taken this project very seriously, put their hearts and souls into it and sound like they are having a terrific time doing so. Kens’ voice is ideally suited to the material, perhaps a future as an outlaw country singer beckons!
This really is a tremendous album, whether or not it will herald a future change in direction for the Murphys remains to be seen (there is a rumour of volume 2 in the offing). For me this was a really refreshing listen and has stopped the Murphys from becoming stale, just regurgitating the same old stuff over and over it also brings Woody Guthrie’s work to a whole new audience, which can only be a good thing.
- Music / Songwriting 10/10
- Vocals / Lyrics 10/10
- Mix / Production 10/10
- Artwork & Packaging 9/10
- Originality 10/10
A well crafted and original album from the Dropkick Murphys. Their music fits wonderfully with Woody Guthries lyrics (or is it the other way round?). The artwork on the cover is wonderful, incorporating the famous “fascists” guitar into it was genius.