Dropkick Murphys returned this week with its latest full-length studio recording 11 Stories of Pain & Glory. The band’s ninth full-length studio recording, this latest offering will cause listeners more joy than pain. That is due in part to the songs’ lyrical themes. That will be discussed shortly. The songs that are featured in the 11-song record are just as important to note as its story. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right. All things considered, this record reveals itself to be the year’s first great new rock record.
Dropkick Murphys’ ninth new full-length studio recording 11 Stories of Pain & Glory is this year’s first great new rock record. The veteran Boston, MA-based punk outfit impresses with this latest effort due at least in part to the lyrical themes presented in each of the record’s songs. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a prime example of the importance of the songs’ lyrical themes to its overall presentation. The song is a cover of the composition made famous by Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel. As founding member and bassist Ken Casey explains, the inspiration for the song came after he left a wake for fellow band member Al Barr’s brother-in-law, who had died from an overdose.
“Between Al’s loss and all the friends and people who I know, I’d say I’ve been to 50 wakes in the last three years,” Casey said. “I was leaving another overdose wake and the song came on in the car. My music was on shuffle and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ randomly played. As I heard the chorus, “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone,” it struck me how powerfully the song related to the struggle and how you don’t have to do it alone.”
Casey made a strong, solid point in his statement. While the song may not be an original, it shows that a song doesn’t necessarily have to have just one meaning even if it was originally written to address one subject or another. It can be just as powerful with a latent message than a manifest message. It’s just one song that exemplifies the importance of the record’s lyrical themes to the album’s presentation. ‘Paying My Way’ is another example of the importance of the record’s lyrical content.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a key example of what makes 11 Songs of Pain & Glory an impressive new effort from Dropkick Murphys. While it may be a cover of a song from a Rogers & Hammerstein musical, the story behind its inclusion here gives the song’s lyrics a while new meaning; a meaning that makes the song just as powerful as the meaning of its lyrics in its original use if not more so. It is just one of the songs that so clearly exhibits the importance of the record’s lyrical content. ‘Paying My Way’ shows just as clearly the importance of the album’s overall lyrical themes to its presentation. Front man Al Barr sings in the song’s lead verse, “Wake and pray/Work all day/I walk past the places that I used to play/Now I’m paying my way.” He adds in the second verse, “My heart is so much higher/Don’t count me out/I’m a survivor/I’d chase these dreams down city streets/Dead end rows and no one sees/And I am proud to be a fighter/When I look back to see your sign/When I look hard into your eyes/When I take stock of what I’ve done/I think about how far I’ve come.” These lines provide such a positive message. It isn’t a coincidence that the message in question is there, either. As Casey explained in a recent interview, “‘Paying My Way’ is not just about paying your bills. It’s about doing what you have to do in order to be a good person, but at the end of the day, never losing sight of the fact that doing the next right thing may lead to great things one day.” That is evident, again, as Barr sings, “Don’t count me out/I’m a survivor…and I am proud to be a fighter.” This is someone who isn’t willing to just roll over, but rather someone who realizes how far he or she has come, and in appreciating that, only looks forward. It is a powerful and moving statement that shows even more why the album’s lyrical themes are so important to its overall presentation. It is hardly the last song that serves to support that statement, too. ‘Blood,’ the record’s lead single is one more example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes to its presentation.
Dropkick Murphys’ cover of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and its own original song ‘Paying My Way’ are both key examples of the importance of the lyrical themes presented in the band’s new album 11 Songs of Pain & Glory. That is because both songs’ lyrical themes present a positive message at their base. What’s more they present those positive messages in different ways, rather than focusing on the same subject in each. They are just two of the songs featured in this record that exhibit the importance of the songs’ lyrical themes. The album’s lead single ‘Blood’ exhibits the importance of the album’s lyrical themes just as much as ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Paying My Way.’ Barr sings here, “They beat us down, but we survived/Talked out of school and made up lies/But we don’t listen, we do what we do/We don’t care about them, we care about you.” He goes on in the song’s closing verse to sing, “We’re coming for you/We’ll kick down the door/Be careful what you ask for, ‘cause you may get more/Gonna keep it loud, we don’t turn down/We’re coming back, we’re taking over this town.” Barr and his band mates accent the verses as they sing in the song’s chorus, “If you want blood we’ll give you some/Straight from the heart til the job is done/If you want it now, then here it comes.” Again, what listeners get here is another positive message in another different subject. The song’s subject come across as saying here he or she and others have endured a lot in life, but still haven’t given up, nor will they give up either. It comes across as echoing the statement that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Once again, it is another prime example of the importance of this record’s lyrical themes to its overall presentation. The record boasts eight other tracks whose lyrical themes are just as important as those noted here. When they are combined together, they show undeniably the importance of the record’s lyrical content to its overall presentation. Of course the record’s lyrical themes are collectively just part of what makes the album stand out. Its musical arrangements are just as important to note as its lyrical themes.
The lyrical themes presented throughout 11 Songs of Pain & Glory are, collectively, key to the record’s overall presentation because of the positive messages presented in each song. Each message presents its own original positive message separate from its counterparts. That in itself gives audiences plenty of reason to pick up this new album. While the record’s positive lyrical messages clearly show the important part that they play in the record’s presentation, those messages are only part of the equation. The songs’ musical arrangements are just as important to discuss as their lyrical themes. Audiences familiar with Dropkick Murphys’ body of work will note that the band has taken a decidedly different path musically on this record than in its past albums. The upbeat, punk arrangements for which the band has come to be known are present here in ‘Rebels With A Cause,’ ‘Kicked To The Curb,’ and ‘I Had A Hat.’ But they are the only pieces that boast that familiar feel. The rest of the album’s featured arrangements are either mid-tempo works such as ‘The Lonesome Boatman,’ ‘Blood’ and ‘First Class Loser’ or they are more reserved pieces such as ‘4-15-13,’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ In simple terms, the arrangements presented in this record tend to favor melody more than speed (or quality over quantity). That’s not to say that the band hasn’t included songs focusing more on melody than speed in its previous albums. But that focus seems more prevalent on this offering than on the band’s previous releases. It may not seem that important on the surface, but again, those who are familiar with the band’s body of work will especially take note of this element. It is interesting to see that change of direction, which in itself is not a bad thing. It’s just interesting to note, and is not the last of the record’s most important elements. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The lyrical and musical content presented throughout Dropkick Murphys’ new album are both key to the record’s overall presentation. The songs’ lyrical themes each share positive messages in original settings. Their musical arrangements show more focus than ever on melody than speed, and while the band has focused on melody before, it has never done so to the extent that it does here. As important as these elements are to the record’s presentation, they are but two of the album’s most important elements. Its overall sequencing, when taking into consideration those messages and arrangements, proves to be important in its own right to the record’s presentation, too. From one song to the next, the stories presented in this record change constantly. Each tale is original in its own way, as are the positive messages, but they also vary, and while the band focuses mainly on slower, more melodic arrangements than ever before, it does still include just enough higher energy arrangements throughout alongside mid-tempo arrangements to keep listeners fully engaged. The album’s energy never gets too fast or slow thanks to the thoughtful sequencing of the songs’ arrangements, in simple terms. When that is considered alongside the record’s varied lyrical topics and associated positive messages, the record’s presentation proves in whole why it will bring listeners more pleasure than pain.
Dropkick Murphys’ latest full-length LP 11 Stories of Pain & Glory is a work that will bring listeners more pleasure than pain. It shows through its lyrical themes and positive messages, its musical arrangements and its general sequencing that it is also the year’s first great rock record. The lyrical themes and positive messages will keep listeners engaged in themselves. The songs’ more melodic arrangements show a blatant change of direction for the band in comparison to the arrangements presented in its previous records. The record’s sequencing highlights the importance of the songs’ lyrical and musical content even more, completing the record’s presentation in turn. Each element obviously is important in its own way to the record. All things considered, they make 11 Stories of Pain & Glory – again – a work that will bring listeners more pleasure than pain, and a record that proves to be the year’s first great rock record. It is available now in stores and online. The band will launch a tour in support of its new album beginning Feb. 21 in Bethlehem, PA. The tour’s current schedule is noted below.
11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory Tour dates are as follows with The Interrupters and Blood or Whiskey opening except where noted below.
2/21/17 – Bethlehem, PA – Sands Bethlehem Event Center *+
2/22/17 – Columbus, OH – Express Live! *+
2/24/17 – Clive, IA – 7 Flags Event Center *+
2/25/17 – Hinckley, MN – The Grand Minnesota Taste Together *
2/26/17 – Sioux Falls, SD – The District *+
2/28/17 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater *+
3/1/17 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom *+
3/2/17 – Little Rock, AR – Metroplex Live *+
3/3/17 – Robinsonville, MS – Horseshoe Tunica – Bluesville *+
3/4/17 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City *+
3/6/17 – St. Petersburg, FL – Janus Live *
3/7/17 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution Live *
3/8/17 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues *
3/10/17 – Myrtle Beach, SC – House of Blues *+
3/11/17 – Washington, DC – Shamrockfest Dropkick Murphys ONLY
3/12/17 – Huntington, NY – The Paramount *+
3/15/17 – Boston, MA – TBA
3/16/17 – Boston, MA – TBA
3/17/17 – Boston, MA – TBA
3/18/17 – Boston, MA – Agganis Arena
3/18/17 – Boston, MA – After Party @ House Of Blues with Pro Boxing
3/19/17 – Boston, MA – TBA
* w/ Blood or Whiskey
+ w/ The Interrupters
More information on 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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