From the delicate and deceptively intricate "Be Good or Be Gone" that inaugurates Fionn Regans debut album, The End of History
, its apparent that his is a talent not to be ignored. Recalling any number of folkish predecessors--Bob Dylan, Jose Gonzalez, Nick Drake--Regans finger-picked guitar work and warm, Damien Rice-esque vocals flow through this entire project like meandering, golden streams. Mixing winsome melodies with emotive chords and quasi-poetic lyricism, Regan straddles the classic folk sound of the 60s and the contemporary neo-folk scene with bristling aplomb. Unlike many so called new folk heroes though, Regan keeps his approach simple, varying his songs not with electronic beats or acidic guitar squalls but light embellishments such as brooding strings (see the dark, Gonzalez-esque "Hunter's Map") and subtle backing vocals (see "Black Water Child"). Though skeletal, Regans songs create a dreamy, nostalgic ambience that successfully eschew cliché. Intimate and contemporary, universal and classic, The End of History
is a triumphant and highly accessible first outing. --Paul Sullivan
Troubadour' is fast becoming as overused a word in music as MySpace, or the phrase 'produced by Mark Ronson'. Not a day seems to go by without another singer/songwriter being thrust upon us, but - no pun intended - it's always the quiet ones you should look out for.
Released last year, The End Of History by Fionn Regan has found itself nominated for the Mercury Music Prize alongside critical darlings Klaxons and The View. 'Who' you cry? Exactly. In a crushingly predictable list, this is some achievement for an artist who has had almost zero attention. Dublin-born Regan has a warm, tender voice, but why him and not James Morrison, Paolo Nutini or any other recent balladeer?
One listen and it becomes abundantly clear. The End of History is a beautiful and beguiling record. From the Bert Jansch-like finger picking on 'The Underwood Typewriter'' to the chiming chords of 'Bunker Or Basement', this record drips with wistful lyrics and wandering melodies. Self-produced with a lightness of touch that Morrison et al would die for, the lone cello that snakes through 'Hunters Map' is understatement at its finest. Elsewhere the Dylanesque folk of 'Hey Rabbit' and the layered vocals of the title track show how acoustic-based music doesn't have to be saccharine or forgettable.
Fionn Regan is as likely to win the Mercury Music Prize as Amy Winehouse is to attend them sober. But that shouldn't stop this terrific, slow-burning record gaining the whole new fan base it deserves. --Rowan Collinson
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window