Without a doubt, becoming a father changes your outlook on your priorities. Great Big Sea's Séan McCann was inspired by the birth of his sons to write a series of songs about this new chapter of his life. Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes is the stunning result. It doesn't matter if you're 1 year old or 100, there's a lot to like here. It covers everything from the traditional lullaby used to put a child to sleep to comforting a friend or lover. Honestly, I think we could all use a few more lullabies.
Great Big Sea has been writing and touring since the early 1990s. Based in Newfoundland, the group's sound focuses on their interpretations of Newfoundland folk songs from the deep Irish, English, and French heritage that's shaped its people. Séan McCann was one of the founding members of the group, which also included Alan Doyle, Darren Power, and Bob Hallett. Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes is McCann's solo debut album.
The album's opener, "Somewhere (For Fin)" captures the heartache of leaving a child for the first time. Written for his son Finnegan after leaving him at the airport to resume touring, you can feel the sadness as he walks the tightrope of telling his son not to cry. "If in darkness your day begins, find the light and let it in… You're not alone, even so far away from home…" he sings. As he says in the liner notes, "I guess this was my way of finding the bright side of the situation."
"Wish" continues the sentiment with a love song to his life, Andrea. Being on the road and away from the one you love is tough. I can't imagine being on tour for months at a time, away from my wife and kids. A week is tough enough. Singing his dedication to her over the miles, the connection is strong between them. "Even though I travel far / my heart will never wander / it is always where you are / you're all I've ever wanted / as I lie beneath foreign skies / I know you see the same stars / if I could just look into your eyes / I'd shine as bright as they are…" This is a thought all of us should share with our loved ones more often while traveling.
And then there are songs like "Lazy Lover" with its swing/ska vibe, written as a desperate plea to make love his wife. "I want a lover who's not afraid / try a little bit harder now…" This is a fun song with a good message for a couple – "We've got to fight for everything / We will see what love will bring…" Great upbeat tune with an awesome horn accompaniment in the background.
The last track fits perfectly as a bookend with the opener – "Don't Cry (For Keegan)". Written for his son Keegan, he sings "Don't cry my dear little one / can't you see you've just begun / … / but every morning you'll find the sun…" A true lullaby telling his son not to worry, to look on the bright side. Something we should all do more often.
All the nine songs on Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes are beautifully arranged with good messages about life, love, and children. Whether a simple acoustic guitar melody or more complex tunes with fiddles, drums, and more, the instruments never overwhelm the lyrics or stories. And Jeen O'Brien's vocal harmonizing sets off McCann's expressive voice regardless if the song is slow or fast. It's obvious the tracks were assembled with passion and skill.
Séan McCann has done an amazing job putting Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes together and I look forward to hearing more from him (and Great Big Sea) in the future! Get more information at McCann's website.