Marketed as a Celtic-flavored pop band since their debut in 1995, the Dublin, Ireland natives’ first two albums were actually made entirely in the USA. This time around they stayed home, and the result is a flowing, relaxed collection of songs that builds on and updates the foundation laid by countrymen such as Clannad.
The Celtic feel on most of the new songs is very subtle, and at times nonexistent. Producers Robert John “Mutt” Lange (Shania Twain, Backstreet Boys) and Mitchell Froom (Sheryl Crow, Los Lobos) have taken the family group’s trademark vocal harmonies and drenched them in trip-hoppy beats and teen-pop synthetics. Various Corrs are credited with tin whistle, bodhran, and violin, but the only noticeably “Celtic” influence in the mix is the fiddle/violinand even that only sparingly. On the upbeat dance numbers like, “Give Me a Reason”, this bolsters the band’s previously thin-sounding pop, but the approach saps the slower numbers like “One Night”, of everything but their overly sentimental core.
Lange’s heavy hand is evident in Spice Girls-lite balladry like, “All the Love in the World”, but thankfully they only let him get his hands on a few tracks. Froom emerges as a sympathetic partner for the band’s post-Fleetwood Mac take on the boy-girl pop group vibe, though the band themselves had a hand in producing most of the album—a smart career move for artists whose sound is shaped so much by the recording studio. Throughout the new disc, the band’s pretty folk-rock is repeatedly perched atop bubbly dance beats that recall Madonna’s work with William Orbit, only Andrea Corr is nowhere near the sexually charged Material Girl when it comes to slyly sexy vocal come-hithers.
Where the band’s most satisfying direction lies may be in the textured midtempo songs like “Say”, which captures the sisters’ sibling familiarity on a jaunty pop hook hanging somewhere between Olivia Newton John and Britpop faves like Oasis; or the perky, Mary Lou Lord with a fiddle sound of “At Your Side”. It is here, where the dance beats take a back seat to the melody and the song is strong enough to withstand the breathy, compressed vocals, where they really hit on truly blue-eyed pop.
// Notes from the Road
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