Sunday, August 26, 2007

Speaking of Irish Singers

How do we feel about Fionn Reagan? The 20 year old Irish newcomer was featured in the latest Paste Magazine sampler (once again, I hope everyone who reads this blog also reads paste magazine…buy one copy and you won’t look back) with a song called “Put a Penny in the Slot.” Intrigued, I read some rave reviews (four stars in The Independent; nominated for the Nationwide Mercury Prize; for the record, I have no idea what that is), and ended up picking up his debut album The End of History. And I think it’s a pretty solid album as well.

In a word I would describe the album as pretty. There are some real nice melodies and some beautiful finger-picking (almost like a not-so-dark sounding Jose Gonzales). All the tunes are pretty laid-back (I think I only picked up a drum beat on one track “Black Water Child”…a very good tune coincidentally). The subdued tunes, combined with Reagan’s young age and often times quite poetic songwriting has earned him many comparisons to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. Lyrically, however, I don’t think Reagan is quite as skilled as Oberst; he’s a little more abstract, and not always focused on lyrics that rhyme, which can, at times, lead to incoherent rambling (this comes to fruition on a song called “Hey Rabbit,” which sounds like it could be a track by Flight of the Conchords). But even at these points I still find the songs charming. Reagan’s songs are definitely more optimistic than Oberst, and Reagan’s voice is not filled with teenage angst, which is a definite positive.

The best track on the album is, indeed, the aforementioned “Put a Penny in the Slot,” with a nod to “Snowy Atlas Mountains,” which depends more on beautiful instrumentation than Reagan’s wordsmithing. In the end, if you enjoy the mellow sounds in the like of a Bright Eyes or even a Damien Rice, I’m guessing you’ll dig Fionn Reagan. (Sidenote: I believe he's from the coastal town of Bray, Ireland, just outside of Dublin...which, if you've been there, will give him a leg up in your book)

Here's a music video (kind of) for "Put a Penny in the Slot."

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