This is Paddy Goes to Holyhead's return to independent production and distribution after a one-album association with EMI. E&OE from 1996 was a slick piece of folk-tinged Euro-rock with Axel Henninger and Almut Ritter's fingerprints all over it. Ritter then left and the band returned to self-production. The result is a simpler, less calculated sound. The quality of their songs, however, is still exceptional. Paddy Goes to Holyhead's music seems more honest and better suited in a less sophisticated treatment. Harald Schmidt's weathered and boozy voice has more integrity and believability when in the confines of a stripped-down production. Their European style of folk-rock with strains of Celtic, Gypsy, and reggae music continues to flourish even after Ritter's exit. Her replacement, Helen Mannert, fills in dutifully on fiddle, accordion, and backing vocals. The rhythm section of bassist Andi Kopp and drummer Kalle Spriestersbach handles the changing rhythms and musical styles with apparent ease and fluidity. Hooray has several top-notch songs -- like "Wintertime," "Johnny," and "Lady from Athina" -- and ranks as one of Paddy's top three or four albums of their Harald Schmidt tenure. Initially, Billy Joel's "Piano Man" seems like an awkward and unnecessary inclusion, but in time it fills the role of album closer ideally. Its tuneful and melancholy mood sums up Hooray to a T.
AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger