Neo-folk artist ROME hails from Luxembourg, and is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Jérôme Reuter. Rome started out back in 2005, and have been a productive project ever since, with a dozen studio albums out in addition to live albums and EP’s. The mini album “The Dublin Session” was released towards the tail end of 2019 through German label Trisol Music Group.

While Rome is generally known to explore and create music described under the category Neo-folk, with a few deviations towards other types of music to boot, on this mini-album Rome opts for a rather different kind of music. As the album title implies, Irish folk music is the name of the game on this occasion.

With local talent helping out, according to the press blurb, just over 25 minutes of music was recorded in a studio in Ireland, possibly with some creative aid by way of stout – at least according to the press release accompanying this production. But despite that description and Irish folk music being explored here, this isn’t a light hearted album at all. Hardly any of these tracks are suited for partying, and many have a deeper core to them that calls for an  active mind to boot.

The instrumentation is what you’d expect from an album from this music universe though, with violin, pipes, banjo (or possibly mandolin) alongside an acoustic guitar or two. Rhythm instruments makes occasional impact appearances, but the vocals are the main and dominant aspect with instruments having more of a backing role. Some of the songs are tight and energetic, a few light hearted, many are slower paced, melancholic, poignant and filled with nerve and tension.

Swedish rock star Thåström reveals himself to be quite the crooner on the otherwise slightly rough ‘Evropa Irredenta’ where he guests as the lead singer, one of those songs that sounds like the studio have been filled with a slightly drunken choir for the chorus and is otherwise a dark and somewhat solemn affair. But the big take from this album, at least as far as I’m concerned, comes in the shape of ‘Vaterland’, a song that opens as a tight and hard folk composition that gradually draw in musical and lyrical elements to build, maintain and then increase nerve and tension. On this one, as well as most other songs, strong lead vocals and effective backing vocals has a big role in making this song effective and impactful.

“The Dublin Session” strikes me as a strong production, and one that manages to convey that Irish folk music can be used for more purposes than merely be the backdrop for a jolly good time while consuming beer at a pub or with friends. Often dark and occasionally rather deep, this is a mini-album that is rewarding to listen to with close attention to the music and the lyrics alike, and with high class lead vocals throughout as the icing on the cake. A quality production that merits an inspection from anyone with an interest in Irish folk music. It’s as easy as that.

My rating: 80/100


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