The Emerald Armada – The Emerald Armada – The Irish music for St. Patrick’s Day you didn’t know you needed

This is really excellent music on the debut EP from the Emerald Armada. And yes, if you’re wondering, the “Emerald” part of their name refers to their Belfast, Northern Ireland origins. This album has gang vocals, exciting harmonies, and a fun vibe great for your St. Patrick’s Day party, even in the States.

The opener “I don’t mind” starts with a soft acoustic guitar, but soon amps up into a full band with characteristic harmonies that give Emerald Armada their best sound. Oh… and accents. Yeah, excellent accents that make the Old World folk sound so much better. The melody of the song blends aggressive acoustic guitar, crazy percussion, and some finger-flying electric guitar into a postively party-worthy jam. It’s a sing-a-long song… that I’m pretty sure is about coming home.

The second track “Strangers” has a real intimate vibe to it from the start. Told with an Elliott Smith folk narrative style, the song unfolds a beautiful concept, “there are no strangers… just friends that I haven’t met yet.” It’s about life as an adventure and the possibility of trying new things. It’s about personal identity and self discovery. The music turns to folk rock later in the track, but maintains a positive and exciting vibe throughout.

“Country” also starts off easy. The acoustic guitar is comforting and the rhythm section’s entrance merely ushers the listener into an easy sway. The vocal blending makes the lyrics go down smooth. It’s obvious these guys have been singing together for a while. Although I’m not sure it’s actually a steel guitar, there’s an electric guitar part made to mimic the steel guitar sound. All told it’s an attempt to sound like a sort of Nashville pop country track. They pull it off well, including a gospel-connected line about singing “hallelujahs through the night.” It fits and it works.

The last (I know… I wish there was more too) song is “Everyone,” a decidedly not country or folk track that is more pop rock than anything. Sounding like something from Green River Ordinance or Needtobreathe, it’s a big venue jumper for sure. The vocal blending, driving rhythm, and crowd rallying lyric are perfect for parties. “I’ll bring everyone right here…” is the repetitive refrain about bringing people together. I think it’s about unity, which would go nicely with the rest of the positive vibe on the album.

What I like most about this little EP is that it has great raw reflections on life but ultimately ends up being pretty optimistic. It’s hard to write happy songs without them sounding cheesy. These guys seem like a band honestly grappling with who they are as a band in terms of style and substance, but in all the right ways. If they keep singing with the Rascal Flatts kind of tightness in their harmonies, they’ll be sure to move right up the charts. This is an excellent EP that has me excited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and dance for better days for us all.

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