A Sense of Freedom

Wolfe Tones

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A Sense of Freedom Review

by Stewart Mason

1987's A Sense of Freedom is perhaps the Wolfe Tones' most explicitly political album. Recorded at a period when friction between Irish Nationalists and Unionists over the fate of Northern Ireland was at the worst it had been in decades, A Sense of Freedom makes it explicit, in no uncertain terms, where the Wolfe Tones' sympathies lay. A concept album of sorts, A Sense of Freedom juxtaposes traditional ballads celebrating the old Republican heroes ("Michael Collins," "Galtee Mountain Boys") with new material written mostly by Derek Warfield and Brian Warfield; "Admiral William Brown" and "Joe McDonnell" are straightforward story songs using the recent history of IRA hunger strikes and pub bombings as a starting point. As a result, the songs are rawer and more pointed than one expects from most Celtic music, a style wrongly thought of as merely pretty by too many people. A Sense of Freedom is as political and passionate as any protest album from the '60s, both a document of its time and a timeless work of political outrage and sorrow.

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