Album Review | Rock

The Waterboys, ‘Modern Blues’

Mike Scott decamped to Nashville to inject some authenticity into this decidedly rock ’n’ roll record from the latest incarnation of the Waterboys. The band, which here includes veteran session players and stalwart violinist Steve Wickham, offers a captivating, often determined set of guitar- and organ-driven songs. Despite a propensity for indulgence and a lack of classic Waterboys flavor, the disc reveals a rejuvenated Scott delivering fine songs and deeply connected vocal performances. With leaps of language and an overflow of literary references, he remains the bard of romantics beholden to and beguiled by love and beauty. He sometimes sounds like the
poet who spent too much time scribbling verses at the end of the bar (“the sleep motes gathered in the dust bowls of her eye”), but when he channels his inner Beat (the grand “Long Strange Golden Road”), he finds transcendence. With Wickham’s violin integrated for power instead of lyricism, the group nimbly mixes boogie blues (“Still a Freak”) with convincing rockers (“Destinies Entwined”). (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Long Strange Golden Road”


The Waterboys perform at the Wilbur Theatre April 28 and 29.

Ken Capobianco can be reached at franznine@live.com.