I first discovered The Corrs when they had their biggest American hit, “Breathless,” in 2000. Since then, the Irish rockers released my favorite album of theirs, Borrowed Heaven, in 2004, and Home, a collection of Irish folk standards and other covers in 2005, and then promptly went on hiatus. The members went on to start families of their own, and some engaged in more productive pursuits than others. But in early 2015, they convened in secret to write songs that eventually resulted in their first album in ten years, White Light. I was eager to buy it when it came out, before learning that it would be double the price off Amazon because there was literally no way to buy it in the US without importing the CD. While I bought it anyway, I wish they’d fix that.
Anyway, White Light fits right in with their past albums in terms of their sound and the quality of their music. They have the same Celtic pop/rock fusion that they’ve always been known for, and they execute it very well. Lest you think that means the album is formulaic and boring, they definitely show off a wide variety of instruments and sounds. The first half of the album is definitely more piano and vocals-driven, and they bring in a smorgasbord of guitar, tin whistle, synthesizer, ukulele, bodhrán (Irish frame drum), and many others later on.
That said, this is probably their most cohesive album since their debut, Forgiven, Not Forgotten. Common themes of love and loss inform the lyrics of almost every song. The romantic songs like “Kiss of Life” and “Catch Me When I Fall” are predictably intense, but the real nuance of the album comes in the sadder songs, such as “White Light,” which tells of someone who (physically or metaphorically) died too young. The song feels more like a tribute to this person’s life, rather than emphasizing the sadness of their loss. “Harmony” also features the main character talking to someone else about a loss, but encouraging them to put it behind them as best they can and “live in harmony.” Ironically, that song also features lead singer Andrea Corr and guitarist Jim Corr singing together in a very good… harmony!
The one song that doesn’t quite fit the love/loss theme is the reflective immigrant song “Ellis Island,” but it illustrates another theme of the album: a minimalist approach to the music. Unlike a lot of their past albums, they don’t seek to fill up all the musical space in a song, rather letting a few instruments speak for themselves alongside the vocals. “Bring on the Night” shows this off too, with a minimum of instruments painting a vibrant picture. In many ways, this song was an excellent pick for the first single, because it is sort of the nexus of all the most interesting qualities of this album… bittersweet themes, minimalist instruments, and interesting lyrical moments. It even includes a reference to the Catholic tradition of lighting a candle in church to pray for someone (“spirit money to a flame”). Another of the interesting lyrical moments occurs in “Strange Romance,” where the main character seems to be blaming herself for her lover’s infidelity, with the phrase “Innocence sleeping while I’m sleepless with guilt,” with “innocence” likely referring to a baby.
Throw in “Gerry’s Reel” for some Irish folk flavor, and you’ve got an album that shows some progression and evolution for the band, while still staying true to the sound that made them famous. There’s probably not as much fast-paced energy on this album as fans are used to (except in “Unconditional” and “Stay”), but it is still worthy of a spot in any listener’s collection. As such, I’m saying buy it. Here are my track picks:
“Bring on the Night”