The High Kings are an Irish folk rock band consisting of four friends who play a total of 13 instruments between them. They have reached considerable fame worldwide after the release of their 2008 self-titled debut, even playing at the official St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the White House in 2012. Their third album, Friends For Life, keeps the band’s signature bouncy ballads going.
The opener, “Oh Maggie,” is old-school folk rock at its best, and features instruments common in traditional Celtic music, such as fiddles and accordions, but played at especially high speeds. Accelerating the record even more is “Gucci,” which starts with a plucky intro that quickly turns into an angry rant about a pretentious girl who believes that she is out of everyone’s league. One of the less lively songs on the LP is “Johnny Leave Her.” It consists mainly of spoken word, with multiple voices joining in for the chorus. “Come With Me” is a slow, uplifting story of a stranger taking care of a heartbroken woman he meets along the highway. Closing the album is the title-track, a more relaxed, melancholy song about traveling different paths but still maintaining a meaningful friendship.
Friends For Life is a very enriching record, and delves deep into the heart of Irish folk music. It manages to put the listener in a good mood, even during the more dysphoric tracks. The High Kings have a knack for combining traditional Celtic themes and instruments with more modern folk rock rhythms and lyrics.
In A Word: Rustic