'Dirty Money' Reviews
"Keeping Ireland Safe For Americana"
"With some notable exceptions, Irish acts have struggled to deliver what are essentially American music forms, from bluegrass to blues, without lapsing into fake accents that grate and irritate. The Oirish strain of country and western has inspired the least forgivable culprits.
Dublin-based five-piece Tupelo avoid all such temptations, and through a blend of integrity and Grade A acoustic musicianship, they offer us a selection of classy tracks that run the gamut from the delicate bluegrass of 'firefly' to the rootsy blues of 'Railroad (reprise)'. Along the way, 'Cougar Cat' has them getting mean and funky, and there's an irresistible Klezmer feel to 'Figure It Out'. There's a touch of Loudon Wainwright about the 'The Blue Gardinia', before they veer off their well-trodden track with 'Irish Man' which reflects their roots in Irish balladry, with James Cramer's raw and expressive vocal hinting at the immortal Luke Kelly.
That the track works in this potentially alien company is testament to Tupelo's unerring musical instincts. Cramer's vocals throughout are spot on, and he's given remarkable assistance from Kevin Duffy's feisty fiddle playing and Tim Condron's sassy sax. The lyrics explore universal themes, with a minimal intrusion of American cliches of the "lonesome whistle blowing" variety. So, with an authentic formula that scores where it matters, Tupelo make music that sounds as joyful to make as it is to listen to."
JACKIE HAYDEN - HOT PRESS
"If you did not read the insert on this CD you might be forgiven for thinking that with a name and a sound like this you were listening to a top American band on a major label. From track one to fifteen this is an amazing album in its writing, production and performance. Bad Man is probably not the most representative offering but it leads us into a varied but always excellent selection. The selective use of a sort of brassy big band sound is a refreshing addition to numerous tracks.
The title track turns up at number three and is a wonderful sound if a little risqué on some lyrics and is worth the cost of the CD. Don't Let Go is another top class offering that could help this group to a much wider audience if given a bit of airplay.
They go into a great combination of folk and almost Americana at its best on I'm An Irishman combining a story, history, also instrumentalism and strong lyrics in a masterful performance. For an infective foot-tapping bluegrass sound give a few minutes to Railroad. Then just to confuse you they take us to another track called Railroad that has an infectious jazzy bluesy sound. I am partial to a bit of fiddle intro so was captivated yet again on Blue Gardinia. Meanwhile Ten Miles Round showcases the combination of guitar and fiddle with thoughtful lyrics on a song that must go down a treat in a live show.
James Cramer can take an extra bow for his lovely song My Family's Land that is performed to perfection to round off one of the best new albums I have heard in a while. Add to the music a well-produced package complete with lyrics and you have an ideal purchase."
NICKY ROSSITER - IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE
"Dublin outfit let the good times roll"
The harmonies are tight, the playing deft on these 14 tracks. It’s impossible not to move every muscle to numbers like ‘Figure It Out’ and the title track (which features an infectious singalong chorus). Throughout, their influences are transparent: ‘Don’t Let Go’ recalls Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’, while the patriotic ‘I’m An Irishman’ evokes Luke Kelly. Elsewhere, the gentle ballad, ‘My Family’s Land’ is one of the few low-key songs here. Curiously, you get the distinct impression that this is a band that really needs to be seen live to be appreciated. Coming to a venue near you, soon..."
COLM O'HARE - HOT PRESS
"It should be difficult to conjure up a images of a 'gangster-filled speakeasy in prohibition-era Chicago' when you're four nice young lads from Dublin, but Tupelo do a more than admirable job.
Imagery aside, the quartet's debut album 'Dirty Money' is an absolute belter: a triumph of assured musicianship and thoughtful, heartfelt songwriting. James Cramer's lead vocals have a gritty, passionate quality that carry and distinguish the sometimes untamed combination of styles.
At times they sound like The Pogues, at others as though they've emerged from the New Orleans roots scene, only to knock out a heartstring-pulling Irish ballad like 'My Family's Land'. For the most part it's an engaging fusion of blue, jazz, bluegrass, rock'n'roll and Irish folk.
There are numerous highlights such as the banjo-flecked, Americana-tinged 'Firefly', thigh-slapping sing-along 'Figure It Out' and the gritty, rousingly patriotic 'Irishman' - a song that seems certain to make it onto the set list of Irish Wedding bands from Dublin to Donegal. If there's one thing that's certain: Tupelo know how to play to their audience."
BBC RADIO 2 MAGAZINE
"Tupelo's songs are a mix of rockabilly, country and raucous ballads. 'I'm An Irishman' will do down great in every bar from Ballybofey to Boston with it's celebration of the heroes of the Rising. The songs are original, familiar but immediate and Tupelo's live reputation is burgeoning."
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