Seven Nations: And Now It’s Come to This (Razor and Tie)

Some of the songs on this disc will crawl inside your head and take up residence, returning when you need a pick-me-up.

I have a confession to make: sometimes the music all starts to sound alike. I turn on the radio, and one band sounds just like the next. There aren’t even genres anymore, just a big conglomeration of what sells. Sometimes—just sometimes, when I start to feel this way—I need to be rescued. And this band did that for me just one week ago. The alarm had gone off on a Sunday morning, not too early, but it’s a Sunday morning, so it’s early, OK? And there, on NPR, was this amazing sound: a band playing in the studio.

So we’ve already established that I’m a sucker for a strong voice and a mean falsetto. But what about bagpipes and fiddles; betcha didn’t know those grabbed me, eh? No? Well, neither did I, to be honest.

Seven Nations is a group of five guys, originally from New York but now calling Orlando home—that is, when they are home. The quintet—Kirk McLeod (vocals, guitars, keyboard, piano, bagpipes), Struby (bass), Scott Long (bagpipes, shuttle pipes), Dan Stacey (fiddles, piano), and Crisco (drums/ percussion)—spends much of its time on the road, equally comfortable playing to huge Celtic audiences in Scotland or small basement rock ’n’ roll clubs here in the Heartland. The boys grew up playing Celtic music—McLeod earned great recognition for his piping skills, having performed as a soloist at Epcot Center and as a guest musician aboard the late Malcolm Forbes’ yacht.

But they don’t stop there; they bring the rock ’n’ roll sound that is their country’s anthem and blend it with the pipes and fiddles—and it’s nothing short of amazing. Some of the songs on this disc will crawl inside your head and take up residence, returning when you need a pick-me-up. On the whole, And Now It’s Come to This is a very uplifting album and also a very awe-inspiring work. “You’d Be Mine” starts off the disc with a familiar-sounding rocker—but what’s that strange instrument in the background? “Wonderful” begins with an almost ’80s flashback, a monotone near-recitation of the lyrics before the instruments—all of them: bagpipes, fiddle, guitars, all—swell and engulf you.
“The Big Yellow Bus” seems to be an acoustic rocker’s dream—but then, there’s that fiddle again, and it’s suddenly earthier, transporting you instantly to a sunny country backyard. The fiddle shines on “Sweet Liberty,” whereas tracks like “Wonderful” and “Up to Me” give full jus tice to McLeod’s wide-ranging vocals. Crunchy guitars give “Up to Me” a raucous start, quickly followed by haunting bagpipes; dueling fiddles at the outset of “Asleep for Days” lend an air of angst to this tender song of loss and realization.

“jump_START ” is an instrumental written and performed by Stacey; McLeod accompanies him perfectly on the keyboard piano as the bagpipes slowly part the waters and enter the song. You’ll want to hike your skirt and do a rapid two-step to the disc’s final track, “Last Call.”

Parts of this album remind me of other bands I’ve liked, such as Blue October, Molly’s Yes, or Collapsis. At times, I feel very adult listening to this disc. Mostly, though, I’m just glad to have discovered Seven Nations, glad to have something that doesn’t sound like everybody else.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply