The Young Dubliners

Real World

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The Young Dubliners may no longer be the sprightly lads who met in a Los Angeles pub in the early '90s, but the Irish-American quintet's highly accessible blend of Celtic and roots rock has lost none of its fiery spirit. While parenthood and other forbidden rock & roll notions may have crept into the fold, chief songwriter Keith Roberts handles these new responsibilities with care, capably juggling the wonders of family life ("Evermore"), post-9/11 paranoia ("Say It's So"), and good old-fashioned Blarney-revelry ("Waxies Dargle") with equal parts mischief and heartfelt candor on the group's fifth record, Real World. His Bono-esque croon serves the songs well, especially the energetic opener that doubles as the album's namesake -- like "Touch the Sky," with its anthemic chorus and Uilleann pipe lead, it blends the two genres so effectively that it never sounds like a gimmick. These are reliable songs from a reliable band, and while skeptics may decry their U2-meets- the Hooters brand of adult alternative rock as contrived, there's no grandstanding here, just a group of guys who love to play together and do it extremely well.

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