Punk's not dead, and folk ain't either! Hailing from Dundalk, Ireland, The Mary Wallopers have traveled across Ireland collecting ballads, and they open their self-titled debut album with their take on Percy French's ballad "Eileen Óg" (Young Eileen), composed over a century ago and later brought to a worldwide audience by the Dubliners.
But the Mary Wallopers' take on the classic ballad doesn't get weighed down by what's come before; they trust the Irish folk tradition's ability to bear reinterpretation, keeping the best of French and applying their own high energy and sly humor.
The song starts off subdued but quickly turns boisterous, as they tell how "the hardest-featured man in Petravore" seduces a local beauty by pretending to be unimpressed with her. ("He never seemed to see the girl at all / Even when she ogled him from underneath her shawl."). That tactic has certainly never worked on me, but the song's infectious rhythm and the band's unbridled joy make their "Eileen Óg" just as timeless as its final advice: "Boys, oh boys, take heed in what I say / When you're courting, don't make no display / If you want them to run after you, just look the other way."