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Great Big Sea Link:

Great Big Sea

Great Big Sea
Sea Of No Cares

2002, Zoë

Listening to Great Big Sea is like those strange moments when your car radio gets caught in between two entirely different styled music stations. Only in this case, one dial location is mellow pop rock, and the other is related to the Celtic tradition. At their worst, Great Big Sea dumbs it down like a bad Dave Matthews imitation (see "Penelope."). But at its best, as with the traditional "Scolding Wife," they may remind you of the rowdy and traditional Pogues.

A song such as "A Boat Like Gideon Brown" is like nothing you'll ever hear on radio anymore. Its vocal is a dead ringer for Gordon Lightfoot, and its peppy beat is colored with penny whistle. And unless it's a love ballad from, say, "Titanic," it's doubtful you'll hear many other songs about boats on the pop charts. Yet they sing this love ode to a sailing vessel the way cowboys used to praise their horses.

"French Perfume" is another sailor's song, only it's driven by a mystic fiddle and insistent percussion that hints at something the Gypsy Kings might do on St. Patrick's Day (if that analogy makes any sense). "Barque In The Harbour" tells a seafaring story in a folky three-quarter waltz time, while "Fortune" is a fiddle-led jig that closes the album on a note of celebration. It speaks of a fisher's fantasy, where—to play on an old saying—a fishing trip's efforts are like catching fish in a barrel.

Great Big Sea is a halfway home for listeners who aren't quite ready to go completely traditional. But with these sea vets as your cultural captains, you may reach your destination before you even know it. —Dan MacIntosh

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