After taking a brief detour to pay homage to the masters of Irish music, the Young Dubliners are back in cruise control with their own brand of driving Celtic rock and roll.
The California Irish-rock quintet is touring in support of its 2009 album, “Saints and Sinners,” the band’s first batch of original studio material in nearly five years.
Young Dubliners bring an unbridled blend of Irish and American rock influences to a benefit show for KYRS Thin Air Community Radio on Thursday at Sunset Junction.
This latest studio set follows the 2007 tribute album “With All Due Respect,” which featured covers of traditional Irish folk tunes plus songs by some of the Young Dubs’ greatest influences, including The Pogues and The Dubliners.
While 2005’s “Real World” received critical praise, the Young Dubliners remained largely under the radar. The band’s biggest commercial success came from “With All Due Respect,” its fastest-selling CD yet.
For “Saints and Sinners,” the Young Dubs turn attention to the trials and tribulations of life on the road, something the group knows a thing or two about.
Playing an average of 200 shows internationally per year, band members drew heavily on personal experiences and observations for the new record.
This “ode to the road” reflects the energy of the Young Dubliners’ boisterous stage show and tireless touring schedule along with unavoidable speed bumps that occur wherever romance, spirituality and politics collide.
And “Saints and Sinners” has plenty of all the above.
The title track is an upbeat party rocker that cuts loose with free-fall jamming that recalls a feisty blend of Phish and Dave Matthews Band. “In the End” is a provocative anti-war ballad that manages to make poignant observations without a lot of finger pointing.
“(I Don’t Think I’ll) Love Anymore” – with a second verse sung by Dead Rock West lead singer Cindy Wasserman – is a heartbreaker about a relationship lost through poor communication.
As with the band’s three previous albums, “Saints and Sinners” features Uillean pipe and pennywhistle wizard (and regular touring member) Eric Rigler, well known for his work on soundtracks for “Titanic” and “Braveheart.”
With members splitting heritage between American and Irish roots, the Young Dubs maintain their signature cultural blend on the latest release while growing firm in the dual-identity sound established when the band formed back in 1988.
“Had I known then that we’d have such longevity and would still be out there doing 180 to 250 shows a year I probably would have come up with a different name,” lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist Keith Roberts said in a news release. “When people say we’re no longer so young, I reply, ‘Well, the Fine Young Cannibals never ate anyone!’
“(Original band member) Paul O’Toole and I were two young lads from Dublin who had moved to L.A., so the name was given to us by early fans and it made sense at the time. The cool thing is, weve stayed young at heart, doing our best to grow into the name rather than let the name grow out of us.”