By: Karl-Erik Stromsta
Throughout Irish folk singer Fionn Regan's stellar debut album, The End of the World (Lost Highway), it constantly feels as if he could be striving for more –- a higher level of musicianship, tauter vocals, a political statement buried within the lyrics. For all the right reasons, he never does.
Instead, Regan seems perfectly content to lie back, smoke home rolls and stare at an Irish sky full of daydreams and marginally consequential memories. That insouciance takes what would have been a good album and makes it great.
Through a dozen warm, atmospheric tracks the mop-topped Regan manages to be pensive but not melancholy; funny but not cheeky; cryptic but not pretentious; sentimental without so much as a whisper of wussiness. He plays spare music with an undeniable Irish flavor, but it's clearly meant to be accessible to a much wider audience. Unlike many folk musicians, Regan is not an acquired taste. Rather, he goes down like a Jell-O shot in sunniest July.
Regan's fame soared quickly after he began beating the pub-sing circuit a few years ago in his native Ireland, soon garnering constellations of four-star reviews from the British music press. He possesses Thom Yorke's crooked but inspired sense of melody, and all the emotional gravitas of Bright Eyes, minus the shrill finger wagging. Nashville's Lost Highway Records clearly made a wise decision in signing the lad and bringing him Stateside. Much like Sufjan Stevens, Regan wants to be able to play pure, stripped down folk music – then go out and party with the indie rock kids. It's a good bet that both crowds will welcome him with open beers.
It is said that the best spies are people whose very presence blends naturally into any situation, and by that definition Regan's voice is a double-o agent. His voice is unassuming, innocent and, in the best possible sense, entirely forgettable. That equation works perfectly for his dreamscape music. He is able to effectively convey messages and emotions without ever having to strain to make a point. This isn't political or spiritual music, yet it is filled to overflowing with some kind of meaning, whatever it might be.
It would be foolish not to expect someone this young and this talented to soon have hordes of t-shirt buying fans and heaps of money. Which is totally OK, of course, as long as he keeps making records this charming.
JamBase | Emerald Isle
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