Fionn Regan’s debut album ‘End of History’ is one of my favourite records. Having fallen in love with his early work and, in particular, his debut record I was left a little confused by his follow up, 2010 release, ‘Shadow of an Empire’. It’s not that this record was particularly bad. No, more that the simple and beauitful acoustic tales of the first record were swept a way in a sea of amplification which, for me, failed to live up to the quality of his debut both musically and lyrically. The full on Dylan-esque tunes, at times, bordered on tribute band material and never really grabbed me the way his early music had. I was left wondering as to where this change in direction might lead in the future. Basically, as an amplified electric performer he failed to convince me, both on record or live.
Fortunately, for me, it seems that the last record’s failure to set the world on fire, or propell Regan to the status he deserves as a song writer, sent him running for cover and into the arms of the music that he is more in tune with. I don’t know if he felt that he had to try and push the boat out on his second record so as not to receive the usual criticism for “playing it safe”. Perhaps he just felt that he, as an artist, needed a change of pace. Whatever the reason though, this new record is packed with gorgeous tales of love and loss – reminiscent of his debut, though I’d admit, never quite reaching the same highs as tracks such as ‘Be Good or Be Gone’, ‘Put A Penny In The Slot’ and ‘Abacus’.
I am sure there will be plenty who say that this album is boring, and one paced. However, for me, Fionn Regan is a class above his contemporaries (you know the ones who everyone raves about, no names mentioned) creating music that is new but sounds as old as the hills in which you can imagine he wandered whilst writing this record. Stand outs include ‘Sow Mare Bitch Vixen’ – a Pink Moon, Drake inspired number if ever there was one, ‘Dogwood Blossom’ and the absolutely gorgeous ‘North Star Lover’.
Fionn Regan never seems to get the credit that his song writing truly deserves but perhaps this is a positive rather than a negative? Sure, ‘End of History’ received a Mercury Nominatio in 2006 but based on Elbow’s recent offering, it might be a good thing not to win that award, ensuring that you retain the freedom to create the music you want to. Certainly, Regan has had that freedom and on this new record he once again indicates that he is a master of his craft. He may never receive the attention that he clearly deserves as a songwriter but for me, that’s ok. As long as he keeps producing albums like this one I’ll be happy.
You can check out Fionn Regan here or if you’re in London go see him live at the Bush Hall on 20th September. Enjoy