The Waterboys, "An Appointment With Mr. Yeats" (Proper American)
This album sounds much better than the concept. The Waterboys' Mike Scott has written 14 songs using the poetry of W.B. Yeats, and the collaboration shouldn't work -- not with such lyrics as "Man-stealer Niamh leant and sighed by Oisin on the grass."
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But Scott pulls it off. His rootsy, melodic Gaelic pop, with nods to Coldplay, Sting and Mark Knopfler, magnifies the beauty of Yeats' words and makes them new again.
Scott, the son of a university lecturer in English literature, has been working on these songs for a couple of decades. His devotion to the project shows with an impressive variety of musical approaches.
"Mad as the Mist and Snow" becomes an arena-ready bluesy jig, while "The Faery's Last Song" serves as a lilting benediction. And then there's "News for the Delphic Oracle," which ends with nymphs and satyrs in the throes of passion in the foamy sea. Very rock 'n' roll.