“You gotta breathe in life gotta taste the air/Gotta feel the earth beneath you see the beauty everywhere/Gonna be my brother, gonna be my friend/Gonna leave the fear behind you and listen from within” –Beltane

My big fear about listening to Celtic rock groups is that I fear all of the music will sound like an Irish Spring commercial. With their fourth release, “Live at the Dublin Pub,” they attempt to capture the spirit and enthusiasm of their live show. Featuring songs from their previous CDs: Tri, Mother May I, and Listen to Your Mother, the live CD is like a one stop sampler/introduction to the band.

Brad Sprauer’s impassioned, raspy vocals sounds like someone you’d want to go drinking with. Apparently some folks at the Dublin Pub in Dayton, Ohio agree. We only get hints of the banter that makes the MoGro live experience. There are songs they obviously enjoy playing more than others (“The Ballad of Miles O’Toole”) and songs that obviously mean a lot personally (“Amazing Grace”) – the songs that bookend the CD. They eschew the easy, pop crafted tunes that would play well for mainstream radio ears in favor of a more unique sound.

“We got a holy man trying to be a police man/We got a ways to go to cross the road.” –The Road

What they may lack in technical virtuosity and vocals, they make up for with heart and imagination. A mix of more romantic songs sit side-by-side with bar song sing-alongs. Also, there is a sense of humor to their music (there’s no other way to explain them yelling “Get jiggy with it” in the middle of a Celtic rock song).

“Sometimes we need faith to swallow whole/Sometimes we need/Sometimes we need/A will to carry home/ But I don’t mind/I don’t care no, I don’t mind/Give me away/Give me peace to mask the pain/’Cause I will not follow man’s – Great Religion/You’ve got to believe in something/Or you’ll fall for anything/Take some time to say, Hey/’Cause you’re never obligated to the chains of earth/Just spread your mind and pray.”–Rev. Darwin

The album has the thread of a spiritual journey winding through it, reflecting a spiritual journey that we are all on and questions that we are all asking. The story, if there was a conscious story at the heart of the collection, examines modern expressions of religions (“The Road”); looks for connection within the human experience (“Beltane”); meditates on the mystery of falling in love (“As I Fall”); lives life in all of its excesses (“A Whiskey and a Friend”); tries on the idea of defining yourself in the story of your culture (“Listen to Your Mother”); finds answers, and the limits to those answers, in reason over man’s religion (“Rev. Darwin”); and ends with contemplating God and His grace (“Amazing Grace”).

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s an honorary Irishman. Live at the Dublin Pub will help keep you in touch with your inner Irishman all year round. All Mother Grove needs now is the one break out album to reach that wider audience they deserve.

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