Great Big Sea | Something Beautiful

Something BeautifulQuestions in my mind after listening to Great Big Sea's new album Something Beautiful: Does “Hootie” count as a musical genre? Is “wuss rock” too harsh?

Of course, it is too harsh, but still... this album forces me to differentiate between what I actually dig and what might be considered “good.” I’ll admit that after a couple run-throughs of the CD I had more than one of these ditties stuck in my head and individually there are some really great melodies in there. But sorbet is pretty good once in a while, too, but I’d never base an entire meal around it. Great Big Sea has put out a bunch of listener-friendly songs that given the right place and time could become huge radio hits to be screamed along to in sorority houses or conversely forgotten in the background of a Coors Light commercial. Tight vocal harmonies and catchy non-offensive acoustic guitars are the m.o. here, with their great wrinkle being an infusion of ethnicity from their native Newfoundland. Excuse my ignorance, but the music of Newfoundland sounds quite a bit like Irish pub music with Celtic fiddling and the like, which does bring something out of the ordinary to the mix. The result is interesting if not a bit off--like a black and tan made with Guiness and... Budweiser (excuse the second beer metaphor). Frankly, the best moments are when the band goes furthest to the roots end of their spectrum with the whirling reels (like the band-arranged traditional “Chafe’s Ceilidh”) and stays away from the formulaic pop (like “Summer” or the single-worthy “Shines Right Through Me”.) The music lacks any semblance of edge, the lyrics have the emotional depth of “Roses Are Red…”, and yet, still, I can’t say I hate it as much as I should. Now if I could only get this darn Great Big Sea tune out of my head...

File between Hootie and the Blowfish.

Aaron Stein

[Published on: 5/20/04]

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