The Waterboys, “Beautiful Now” from Modern Blues (2015): One Track Mind

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“You were beautiful then, sweet angel,” Mike Scott sings as the Waterboys get going again, “you’re way more beautiful now.” Same with this band, which has thrived through a variety of permutations — both in lineup and in sound — but seems to emerge both different and more interesting each time.

There’s been soaring post-punk songcraft, zippy Celtic folk, sprawling millennial ruminations and now “Beautiful Now,” a blast of revved up Southern soul to kindle these long winter’s nights. It’s part of Modern Blues, which was recorded entirely in Nashville — and sounds exactly like that.

Produced by Waterboys leader Mike Scott and mixed by Bob Clearmountain, Modern Blues (due on January 20, 2015 via Kobalt) looks to follow similar Waterboys leaps of artistic faith like 1985’s thrillingly epic This is the Sea and the sharp Scots-Irish detour of 1988’s Fisherman’s Blues, the edgy explorations of 2000’s A Rock in the Weary Land and the flinty poetry of 2011’s An Appointment with Mr. Yeats.

Through it all, Scott and Co. have remained as brilliantly unquantifiable as they are involvingly restless. As for who’s along for the ride this time? Scott is joined on Modern Blues by long-time Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham, as well as mainstay drummer Ralph Salmins. David Hood, a Muscle Shoals vet, appears on bass as does Memphis-based keyboardist Paul Brown.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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