2. Prisoner’s Song
3. Rose Tattoo
5. Jimmy Collins’ Wake
6. The Season’s Upon Us
7. The Battle Rages On
8. Don’t Tear Us Apart
9. My Hero
10. Out On The Town
11. Out Of Our Head
12. End of The Night
Signed and Sealed In Blood, is the eighth studio release from the Dropkick Murphys. It also happens to be the quickest release we’ve seen from the band following a previous album, with only a two year wait. The title, Signed and Sealed In Blood, is a line in the song Rose Tattoo. Speaking of tattoos, the Dropkick Murphys have a very devoted fan base in which some of them will get tattoos referencing a Murphy song, artwork, and so on. When the first single was released, The Murphys asked some of those dedicated fans to get a tattoo of the new albums artwork, and submit photos of their new ink. Some of those pictures would then go on to appear in the video for Rose Tattoo, and would be used as part of the packaging for the CD.
Signed and Sealed In Blood opens with The Boys are Back, as an intro song and immediately sucks you into the album. It’s a vintage sounding Dropkick Murphys tune with the easy to remember lyrics and rowdy crowd chanting chorus. I’d imagine that the guys will be using this song as their set opener for a while. Personally, I don’t think that it’s a better replacement for Cadence to Arms / Do or Die; nevertheless, The Boys are Back will be a decent opener to kickoff live shows.
Prisoner’s Song, comes off as a sea shanty about the hardships you face being behind bars, as well as being part of the chain gang. While it’s not a bad song, I do have to address an elephant in the room. Normally, I would be a hypocrite here and say, “come on folks, lets not over-analyze this thing.” However, after giving this track numerous listens, I’m convinced that it’s a hybrid rehash of the Murphys two most successful mainstream songs. The first being The State of Massachusetts and the second which is, the bane of every hard-core Celtic punk fans existence, Shipping Up to Boston. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Listen from the 12 second mark of The State of Massachusetts, then listen to prisoner song around 20 seconds in. It’s almost the exact same thing, note for note. There are some similar riffs that you’ll be able to easily pick out as well.
As far as the Shipping Up to Boston similarities go, it’s very noticeable in the overall melody. Why would are beloved Murphys do this? To be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no idea. The Dropkick Murphys have always written the type of music that they want to write. They’re not the type of band that worries about capitalizing on the success of their pop chart hits. While there seems to be a folk fad in the mainstream for now, I genuinely do not believe that The Murphys are trying to appeal to the pop radio demographic with banjos and bagpipes.
In early November, the band released the album’s first single, Rose Tattoo. It features, Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons on banjo and what I would consider the most well-constructed song on the album, lyrically speaking. The song is basically a mini life story about Ken Casey, as told by his various tattoos. More specifically about the rose tattoo on his arm which is dedicated to his grandfather. Ken is at his best when he’s singing energetic punk-fueled anthems, but I tend to favor his emotionally moving songs. I once thought that Upstarts and Broken Hearts was his best slow song, but Rose Tattoo has to be his new masterpiece.
Burn is a track that sounds like it came straight out of the Sing Loud, Sing Proud era. This song is so good that not only is it the best track on the album, but it’s arguably is one of their best since leaving Hellcat. Longtime Murphys fans should be pleased by this tracks production as it has the perfect blend of Celtic instruments, in a prominent sounding punk rock style.
Jimmy Collins’ Wake is a eulogy type song about a Boston Red Sox player that played in the early 1900s. If you’re like me and miss good country music, then you’re going to love this track. With it’s Johnny Cash like influence over the bass and drums and uplifting lyrics celebrating the life of one of Boston’s greatest, this has easily become my favorite Murphys sports song.
The Season’s Upon Us is the second single off the record and is about spending Christmas with a dysfunctional family. There’s always at least one relative that makes us wish we were spending Christmas alone, rather than having to put on a fake smile and deal with them. It’s a humorous song that I think everyone can relate to in some form. The only problem that I have with The Season’s Upon Us, is that it’s right in the middle of the album. There’s an unwritten rule that says I can’t listen to seasonal songs throughout the year. It seems to comes in as a little awkwardly forced, especially if you’re listening to the album in May. I think it would’ve been better if it was just released as a single separately, or even as a bonus track.
My Hero is an upbeat tearjerker about the wisdom and inspirational words that a father has given. It’s a solid song with a standout guitar rift and chorus. One of the reasons I love the Dropkick Murphys so much, is because of tracks like Out On the Town. With its 1950s rock ‘n roll, sock hop sound, subtle bagpiping, and over-the-top whistling and finger snapping, it’s a song that I enjoyed immensely. The closing track End of the Night, is a soft rock piano tune that ends the album perfectly. My only complaint about this song is it tends to drag out a little too much. It’s feels like it last a minute longer than it should.
Yet again the Dropkick Murphys have put out a great album filled with their familiar topics. Though it is missing a traditional Irish cover which feels a bit odd. Despite it’s flaws, the album is a welcomed addition to any fans collection. I find it would be much less of a hassle for the casual fan to purchase the full album, rather than buying individual songs, minus the tracks that they’re simply not into. If you’re like me, you’ll want to get the 2x LP on red vinyl.