CD Review: Spade Mcquade “An Ocean Between Us”

It was nearly thirty years ago that Irish rock band Energy Orchard released their self-titled album. Energy Orchard may never have had a very large following here in the United States, but they did end up releasing their self-titled album on MCA. That band and their self-titled album featured a sound that blended a style reminiscent of U2 with a stronger Irish vibe than the more well-known band ever had. And from that album, the band released one of their strongest singles, a song called “Sailor Town“. That resulting style was featured in several albums before the band would go their separate ways. And for the band’s rhythm guitarist, Spade Mcquade, that meant making his way over to the United States.  

Spade Mcquade now makes his home in the United States. And because of that, his musical style has taken on a definite American flare to it. So much so, that Mcquade refers to his style as Irish Americana. And it is that style that can be found on his latest release entitled An Ocean Between Us

An Ocean Between Us from Spade Mcquade finds the singer-songwriter creating an album in a Live In The Studio setting. What ends up being created is an album that sounds as if the tracks have the same warmth that they would have if the listener was experiencing the tracks in a concert setting.

Spade Mcquade’s An Ocean Between Us album begins with the track “Humble”. The track takes some influence from the early days of Hootie and the Blowfish and combines it with elements of Deep Blue Something’s song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. What results is a track that feels as if it would have been right at home on the radio back in the early to mid-nineties. The track finds Mcquade declaring that he has always been and will always be the same person.

It is on the track “London Again” that the listener gets to understand just what is meant by the term Irish Americana.  The track features a strong Country/Rock blend to the base of the music. But it also includes a little Celtic influence from the inclusion of the tin whistle on the track. What results is a sound that is rather reminiscent of the type of music that the band The Pogues would have created, minus the Punk influence to track.

With the next track, Irish musician Spade Mcquade takes the listener back in time a bit on the song “Stupid”. The musical direction on the track finds Mcquade creating a track that seems to contain a strong Folk vibe. But the feel to the music of the song is not just any Folk vibe. The song contains a vibe that was very much present in American music during the sixties. As a matter-of-fact, what comes across is a song that was largely influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan back at the time period of the sixties.

One of the strongest tracks on the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade is the song “Human After All”. The track features a sound that feels like a combination between a Michael Nesmith & the First National Band song and a more Countrified song from The Eagles. The combination that is produced creates a track that feels as if it would have been right at home on AM radio back during the seventies. In fact, the song would have been right at home on the Top 40 charts back then.

It is with the next track on the release that the listener gets to experience a bit of Spade Mcquade’s humor. It is with the song “Gaybar” that Mcquade adds a few chuckles to the album, although the track is more light-hearted than humorous. The track finds Spade and some friends leaving a bar as they were looking for something fun. When other places failed to live up to their expectations, they tried a gay bar and found some fun. The track proves that keeping an open mind is very important or else you might miss out on something you might regret later. As far as the music to the track is concerned, Mcquade creates a track that, like with the song “London Again” from earlier on in the release, features a style rather reminiscent of The Pogues. The fun, bouncy feel of the music adds to the overall lightheartedness of the track.

As Spade Mcquade is living in the United States having been born over in Ireland, it should come as no surprise that he would write a song about that very topic. The song called “Bangor Town” finds Mcquade feeling nostalgic as he sings about thinking back to his time back in Ireland and how, no matter where you may go in your life, your hometown will always be where you come from. To go along with the gentle feeling of reminiscing that is found in the lyrics, the music of the track also contains a gentleness that lends itself to the feeling of reminiscing about the past. Together, the music and the lyrics on the release combine to create a moment that most of us can relate to in some way.  

The final track of the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade is more of a story than anything else. The song “Just a Cat” contains a light, easy pace to the music as the song features a Folk approach to both the music and lyrical content. “Just a Cat” is the tale of a man who is relaxing in his backyard when a strange cat makes its way over to him. However, there is something different about the animal: He is the reincarnated soul of a friend who is now pondering what to do. The track is a cautionary tale of what might happen if you don’t treat people (or in this case, animals) the way you would to be treated.

While many of the track that are contained in Spade Mcquade’s new album have a Rock and Roll base to them,  An Ocean Between Us album is a release that features different styles of music to nearly every song. The Americana (or Irish Americana, as Spade himself describes it) music contained within the release creates moments on the album that are unique from one track to the next. This ensures that the album is rather varied throughout the ten or so tracks that make up the album.  

To discover the music of Spade Mcquade, check out the song “Pucker Up“. 

You can find An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade on Spotify HERE

To check out the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade, click on the album cover below:  

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