Seamus Kelleher, who just released his second solo CD, Another Side of Town. Kelleher has a cult following from New York City to Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore but to anyone living out of the area he’s quite unknown. I always liked his lead guitar work with Blackthorn, a Celtic-rock band from Philadelphia that he was an important member of for around fifteen years.
Another Side of Town is even better than Kelleher's debut, Four Cups of Coffee, because it's more stylistically unified while avoiding all of the traps that make everything on an album sound redundant. Kelleher can rock hard when the situation calls for it and there were hints on his first CD that he wanted to be a rocking bluesman with a special affection for fellow Irishman Rory Gallagher. However, on this new outing he presents himself more as a folk-rocking singer-songwriter who plays a lot of acoustic guitar.
Six of the ten tracks are originals. One is a new, better version of the title track from Coffee now featuring singer Charlene Holloway on harmony vocals, two new instrumentals with acoustic foundations, ("Guitar Dreams" and "The Huttlinger Rag") and three more very personal tunes. "The Other Side of Town" was inspired by a very serious fall Kelleher took five years ago that made him realize how lucky he is to be alive each day. "Reno Winter's Sky" is a very moving non-political tribute to the brave fighting men and women of our military. "Thank You For The Music" is about Kelleher's love for the music of Leonard Cohen.
Kelleher has good taste in his choice of cover versions. He admits his take on Ralph McTell’s "Streets of London" does not top the original but he puts a pleasingly unique spin on it. To keep it fresh he changes the melody sightly in spots in order to make the song his own. His growling version of "House of the Rising Sun" shows off what he can do with a rock guitar, and "Galway Bay" (recorded by Bing Crosby many years ago) allows him to revisit his roots. "The Shepherd's Boy" is included because the singer simply loves this song written by a late, dear friend.
Instead of printing lyrics Kelleher offers us some background information regarding the inspiration behind each track. It helps elevate all of the songs to a higher level, even the ones that might be considered filler without them.
Kelleher will probably never be a star but that shouldn't stop you from embracing this fine talent.