Fionn Regan – The Shadow Of An Empire

On Song By Toad there was a recent article about Midlake’s new record ‘The Courage Of Others’.  The article suggested that their new record was nothing more than a poorer version of previous record ‘The Trials Of Van Occupanther’ making no attempt to challenge their established sound or push themselves creatively as a band.  Play it safe if you will.  Fionn Regan’s debut record ‘The End Of History’ is without doubt one of my favourite records, so you could say that I’ve been eagerly anticipating the follow up record for quite some time now.  It’s long over due.  And so it has finally arrived.  And the one thing that cannot be thrown at this record is the accusation that the artist has played it safe with an album in the same vein as the previous one.  In fact, I am going to see Fionn this Saturday at King Tuts and if this were 1965 I would be in amongst a crowd most likely shouting “Judas” as Mr Regan strikes up his band.  For you see, this is quite a major departure from the acoustic sounds of debut record and has many paralells to when Bob Dylan decided to trade in his gentle acoustic strumming for some real rock n’roll riffs.  Not that I would say Regan sounds that like Bob Dylan.  I just see parallels in the departure in sound.  It’s a bold step.

The record starts with ‘Protection Racket’, a short, raucous number, which is also the debut single off the album.  The electric upbeat sounds continue for the first part of the album culminating with the wonderful ‘Genocide Matinee’.  It’s only at this point that we get a glimpse of the Fionn Regan from ‘The End Of History’ as ‘Violent Demeanour’ brings the record down and ‘Lines Written In Winter’ goes a step further to beautiful effect.  It’s when he drops the tempo we are really reminded of just what a wonderful song writer he is.  The simple beauty of ‘Lines Written In Winter’ is a joy to behold.  The acoustic foray is short lived though as ‘House Detective’ kicks in with full electric backing once again.  This is not a long record clocking in at about 35 minutes.  What it lacks in length though it more than makes up for in quality.  Is it a better record than his debut?  Well I think its too early for me to answer that.  However, I do feel that its a step forward and a brave progression of his sound.  Not many artists have the balls to do this so early into their careers.  In my opinion Fionn Regan has done so with great success and this record confirms to me that he is one of the most important songwriters of our day.  Wonderful lyrics, wonderful songs, wonderful record.  Check him out here.  Enjoy.

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