Already well into the third decade of their existence, The Saw Doctors might be forgiven for coasting at this stage of their career. Their seventh studio album released at the end of last month puts paid to that idea though, The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors sees the Irish rockers recapturing some of their finest form of the last 24 years.
The Saw Doctors occupy a bit of a strange position amongst music fans, they are regarded by many as a bit of a joke, long past their sell-by-date, but on the other hand they enjoy a large, fairly rabid fanbase. And you sense that neither viewpoint has a great deal to do with their recorded output, with their detractors more concerned with the band's deeply uncool image, while the fanatics rave more about their renowned live performances. Perhaps that's why this is only album number seven in 24 years.
Opening track, and lead single Takin' The Train is going to be another solid addition to The Saw Doctors' live setlists in the near future with its big bold riffs, and sing-along choruses, it could easily become a crowd favourite. Well Byes is another in the same mould, backed by a bouncy piano track and Davy Carton's trademark Galway drawl, its a great energetic anthem that's guaranteed to get a live crowd on its feet.
Of the more subdued moments, Last Call is the pick, a beautiful, heartfelt love song, led by a simple piano melody and Carton's emotional vocals. As The Light Fades follows, and provides more of the same, slow-burning melancholia, done with enough honesty and craft to leave a lasting mark on the listener.
At the end of the day The Further Adventures Of... is unlikely to change anyone's mind about The Saw Doctors. In some ways it is a departure from their earlier material, but there is enough there that is the same to please the fans and turn off the doubters in equal measure.
There is perhaps more of a modern tinge to this album than previous releases, less of the Irish folksy feel, but let's be clear, The Saw Doctors' are too long in the tooth now to change their ways now, and nor do they need to.
Final Score: 69%