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2017-12-16 EP REVIEW – RAWLINS CROSS "Rock Steady" (2017)

Rawlins Cross “Rock Steady” GroundSwell Music
Release date: December 1, 2017
Running time: 22:16, 6 tracks

Rawlins Cross is the name for a convergence of streets in St. John’s, Newfoundland. But Rawlins Cross is also the name for the main Celtic rock band from Atlantic Canada. The band released their debut album “A Turn of the Wheel” in 1989, a blend of traditional tunes and songs written by brothers Dave (guitar, vocals) and Geoff Panting (keyboards,vocals). Apart from them, piper and tin whistler Ian McKinnnon from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was on that first line-up. Their second album, “Crossing the Border”, was released in 1992.

Their classic line-up was established in 1993 with the release of “Reel’n’Roll”: Dave Panting (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals), Geoff Panting (accordion, keyboards, backing vocals), Ian McKinnon (pipes, tin whistle), Brian Bourne (bass, chapman stick, backing vocals, from Halifax, Nova Scotia), Howie Southwood (drums, from Elora, Ontario) and Joey Kitson (lead vocals, from Prince Edward Island). Then, they released “Living River” in 1996, “Celtic Instrumentals” in 1997 (“a composite of instrumentals from previous albums and new tunes recorded especially for this project”) and “Make it on Time” in 1998. All the albums were released by Ground Swell Records in Canada and “Living River” and “Make it on Time” were licensed to Magnetic Music in Germany.

Rawlins Cross went on hiatus around 2001 and they came back in 2008 with a best of called “Anthology” , which was followed by a new album titled “Heart-Head-Hands” in 2010. “Rock Steady” is their new 6 track EP after a second hiatus.

Rock Steady” is the first cut on the disc. This kick-ass song written by Dave is the proof that Rawlins Cross are alive and kicking. “Rock Steady” showcases catchy chorus (“Is everybody ready? Rock Steady!”), Joey’s powerful vocals, Geoff’s accordion, Ian’s pipes and Howie and Brian on the rhythm section. However, the standout track on the album is “Hold You Tonight”. This lively number is a true gem, probably one of the best Celtic rock songs of 2017. Ian plays tin whistle and guest Julien Kitson (Joey’s song) plays tenor banjo. Curiously, this is the first song written for the band by Joey Kitson.

Can’t Get You outta my Mind” was written by Brian. The sound is maybe different, I daresay that it has a The Doors spin, and it’s about “modern mass miscommunications by many modes”. Joey’s vocals are spotless.

Rawlins Cross move to their slower side on “Long Have we travelled”, “That Last Long Mile” and “Waltzing the Time Away”. The whistle is played on the first half of “Long Have We Travelled” but later the pipes arrive together with the electric guitar. This song was written by John Landry, Ian McKinnon and Geoff Panting. “That Last Long Mile” has great keyboards and tin whistle arrangements, and perfect drums by Howie. It was written by Geoff Painting, while “Waltzing the Time Away” was written by his brother Dave. Great song to finish up the EP.

Rock Steady” is an interesting CD that old and new fans will appreciate. I miss one or two set of tunes, since I feel that they would have improved the EP balance. Anyway, I’m really happy that Rawlins Cross are back.

Track listing:

1 – Rock Steady 3:11
2 – Hold You Tonight 2:51
3 – Long Have We Travelled 4:54
4 – Can’t Get You Outta My Mind 3:52
5 – That Last Long Mile 3:30
6 – Waltzing the Time Away 3:58

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Review by Kinksmarkham





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