Take three fetching ladies and one lad from Dundalk, Ireland, mix traditional Irish music filtered through pop/rock sensibilities, and you have the Corrs. Formed in 1990, the quartet (Andrea, tin whistle, vocals; Caroline, drums; Sharon, violin; and Jim, guitars/keyboards) first caught the eye of eventual manager John Hughes while he was scouting talent for Alan Parker's The Commitments. Those familiar with that film know it's the chronicle of a gritty urban soul/rhythm and blues band from Dublin that gets a shot. The Corrs' own story to date could make a great screenplay, too.
Performances at the 1994 World Cup in Boston, opening for Celine Dion's 1996 tour and the success of their debut album, Forgiven, Not Forgotten, made The Corrs international stars. The follow-up, 1997's Talk on Corners, received a boost stateside via a remixed version in 1999. Covering Stevie Nick's "Dreams" for the Fleetwood Mac tribute album not only brought the Corrs added recognition, but at the same time their interpretation of Nicks' moodscape may have influenced their current musical direction. Unfortunately, while opening for the Rolling Stones on some dates during the Stones' last tour has earned the Corrs some satisfaction, breakthrough success in America remains elusive.
That may change with their latest release, In Blue, which has already topped the charts in Europe and elsewhere. Studio veteran Robert "Mutt" Lange lends songwriting and producing talents to three tracks, including the first single, "Breathless," which just pulsates with an irresistible pop bounce. And producer Mitchell Froom is on board, too. The goal is clear: airplay on American radio. Purists may quibble that the Corrs have completely abandoned their Irish roots for a sound that is, well, too pop. Guitars and synthesizers feature more prominently in the mix than tin whistle or fiddle. Rhythms range from disco to pop to reggae. Ballads dominate the disc, as evidenced by the song titles: "Somebody for Someone," "All the Love in the World," "One Night," "No More Cry," "Hurt Before." It's almost more confession than you want to hear.
I'm going to have to give this one time to grow on me. Right now, I prefer the Unplugged or Talk on Corners sets. That said, there is still much to like here. The closing instrumental, "Rebel Heart," shows where the Corrs are coming from. The album In Blue shows where they're going. And growing.