The call comes in five minutes early, but no matter. Leo
Moran, one of two singers, guitarists, and songwriters for the Irish band the
Saw Doctors, is on the phone from his hometown of Galway.
The soft burr of
his Eire accent automatically evokes an uncommon air of affability. In a way,
that's to be expected.
The Saw Doctors' prescription for melodic allure has
always reflected their Irish roots, evoking images of the lovely emerald isle
with its rural villages, lush rolling hills, wind-swept beaches, and idyllic
Likewise, they dispense hooks that are so irresistible, the defy
sitting still, the sort of melodies that sound both seamless and spontaneous,
all chock-full of instant appeal.
"When you're doing something that you love doing, it's like
playing a sport you love," Moran comments in response to his interviewer's
effusive praise. "I'm always asked why I think people love the band, and I say
that's one of the major reasons. It's because we love it, and that enjoyment is
infectious. It seems to come across to people."
Their recent cover of that old '60s chestnut "Downtown" (featuring a guest appearance from Petula Clark, the original singer) aside, Moran and the band's other longtime mainstay, Davy Carton, have always had a knack for writing great original songs. They draw from a full range of heartfelt emotions, from dewy-eyed sentiment to infectious celebration. While the rest of the lineup has steadily transitioned through the years, Moran and Carton have kept constant their ability to fuse invigorating melodies with a knowing perspective.
"There are two dimensions to the Saw Doctors, and we do our best to cover the full spectrum of emotions. Very often, we're recognized for the upbeat and the humorous-type tunes, and very often, we're ignored for the more serious and sober songs."
Despite their parochial perspective, the lovely lilt of their vocals and the colorful imagery that enriches their songs convey a homespun charm and cheery effervescence that reflect their Irish origins.
"Sometimes, I think I'll never write another song again," Moran muses. "I can't try too hard because it doesn't work like that. These songs are very elusive creatures. They're like little birds. They don't always land on your shoulder. Sometimes you have to be very still and patient. We're very delighted when one sticks and we can see that people relate to it. But we rarely know the difference. It's the audience that tells us the difference.
"We have a critical mass of songs that do connect with people, and you're just delighted when you write a song that works. But history has a habit of becoming history before you expect it to. So you're even more delighted when you can write the next one."
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