If you’re a fan of classic Celtic music, look no further than … France? That’s where you’ll find Doolin', the six-piece band staying true to the Irish spirit and sound, despite French accents and roots. Their self-titled debut already seems to have a rabid international following, so it will come as no surprise when they’re embraced stateside. The concept may sound like a gimmick, but it’s far from it.
The songs on Doolin' are more than just hearty pub fare. They’re thoughtful, emotional and traditional. Even if Celtic music isn’t your thing, you’ll be moved by the heartfelt vocal harmonies and throwback sound. And the group doesn’t limit themselves to what’s expected. They bring their own flare to everything from Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl” to Sinead O’Connor’s “Famine”, and Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown”. Plus, Doolin' brings the Irish aesthetic to French songs, too. “Le Jupon Blanc” is a whimsical, low key starring vehicle for some seriously incredibly fiddle playing, and “Le Dernier Kouign Amann” is slow and sultry with a bit of subtle country twang.
A mix of self-taught and classically trained musicians, Doolin’s instrumental arrangements are the true standout here. The way each member of the band blends his sound with the rest with such ease is a feat. The accordion bounces gently off of whistles, bass, guitar, fiddle and drums, and the enchanting result is rich and layered.
The overall vibe on Doolin' is a chill one. Even when Guilhem Cavaillé’s fiddle playing gets fiery or Nicolas Besse’s guitar speeds up, it’s a pleasant experience to listen to this record. Wilfried Besse’s accordion adds an element of French romance and keeps the band’s sound fresh. The band has been playing together for more than a decade, and it shows in the obvious musical chemistry they have together.