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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
The Shadow Of An Empire
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 14 July 2017
As others have said Fionn changed his exquisite folk style of the wonderful debut The End of History for a largely rockier, more strident and more electric one on this album. The first few tracks especially are not easy on these ears, but persevere and there are some fine tracks on the album, especially Violent Demeanour which would easily grace the debut, and two or three others.. Copies of Shadow of an Empire are freely available and cheap, so if you like this Irish singer-songwriter give it a try.
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VINE VOICEon 9 February 2010
The press release suggests a shift in the Earth: Fionn Regan's plugged in his guitar and notched up the attitude. But hold on to your shaking heads and save the Bob Dylan comparisons for Shadow Of An Empire keeps the Irish singer-songwriter closer to his folk beginnings than the pre-boom buzz might have you believe.

Lead single Protection Racket was an eye-opener; pledging allegiance to a barn-storming, punch-up and get-dancing spirit. To announce it a good four months before Regan's second album came by in its full form seemed - at the time - to be a means of warning the fans whose hearts were stolen by the Mercury nominated debut, The End of History, that this was quite frankly, going to be a completely different ride.

And to some extent, those warded away by October's giveaway download will be left equally dumbfounded by the likes of Genocide Matinee (musically citing Johnny Cash's early days) and Coat Hook (a perfectly structured two-and-a-half-minutes of modern day rock `n' roll). Somehow however, Regan maintains the charm that seeped into his more delicate debut, a debut which is as equally honoured as this new direction is; Catacombs doesn't completely replace a strum with a pluck, but vocals are uniquely untamed and loose, just as they were in 2006's Put A Penny In The Slot and Hey Rabbit.

Lines Written In Writer and Lord Help My Poor Soul though, see the songwriter at an emotional low; the former admitting "I want to tell you that I'd make your bed, break it up and I'd do it again, so it feels like you've been here, but I know that you're not, coming home". It almost seems as if this crusade of hard-knuckle rock music of which Regan's become swept away in, is a gimmick to help him keep at distance from real emotions. Lines Written In Winter arrives at a crucial time as a perfect example of acoustic songwriting, squeezed in-between the muscular House Detective and Violent Demeanour, and it's pretty much the only occasion where the lyricist exposes himself through first person.

Reciting music milestones that few records dare to, Regan somehow manages to keep his head, continuing to write well-developed melodies and striking lyrics. He remains a formidable word-smith, and a fast mover by the looks of things. However his career develops, it will be crucial for him to keep a tight hold of the bewitching elements that help make not just his debut, but also his latest, a refreshing listen.
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This album is to my great sadness probably the most dissapointing release of 2010 thus far. I thought Fionn Regan's mercury nominated 2006 debut "the End of History" to be something truly special, infused with considerable charm and a cut above your average singer songwriter particularly with the superb "Black Water Child" and "Underwood Typewriter". Indeed there was plenty of space for him to further expand on these very original explorations. Sadly what we have here is classic difficult second album syndrome with Regan trying to "do a Dylan" most awfully on Protection Racket (which is a poor mans version of Subterranean Homesick Blues) and populating the album with substandard rock outs and lyrics. In "Catacombs" he states at one point

There's a mansion on the hill,
We can get into their pool,
You have a lot to learn,
And I have a lot to forget".

On this evidence he is not the particularly formidable word smith which is argued in other reviews. I suppose credit should be given that he has not played it safe and it obviously better than collected output of the wretched Paolo Nutini. The album's standout track "Lines written in Winter" is excellent the problem is that its the one song that could have happily been recorded on End of History. Let us hope that his third album sees a real return to form and difference combined with development.
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on 21 April 2010
I'm struggling to understand how people who loved his first album are only giving this 1 or 2 stars. It is a great great album no question about it.
The first was very much a lo key folk album with great melodies, amazing finger picking, and superb lyrics. It couldn't have been improved on in that sense and the style of that album clearly wasn't something that Fionn wanted to replicate on this one.

Shadow of an empire is a much more varied and concise effort. On songs like Coat Hook, Violent Demeanour, Lines written in winter, Lord Help my poor soul and the title track his songwriting and lyrics are better than all but a couple of songs on his first LP. The much more apparent presence of an accompanying band does not detract in anyway from the fragility and beauty of his voice and lyrics.

Don't get me wrong I love his first album but I also love this one just as much. Don't listen to the people who can't recognise the greatest songwriting talent around at the moment. As for being ''the most disappointing album of 2010 thus far'' (according to one reviewer) I think this person needs to check their hearing!!
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on 29 March 2010
Loved The End of History so had high hopes... wasn't disappointed. Far more of a 'proper album' than its predecessor. The lyrics are wonderfully disjointed, it's always a little bit stretching to find a narrative to any of the songs - but I personally like that! The imagery is fantastic. Love the extra bite that these songs have as a result of the beefier more electric sound. Why isn't Fionn fantastically famous?? Beats me.
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on 3 March 2010
Ignore the Dylan comparisons- to me they don't add up. To look for influences, look more to Ryan Adams- Fionn this is a brilliant follow up to the End of History. Keep moving forward.
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on 16 February 2010
i was a real fan of Fionn's debut and while this sees a slight gear (and label) change, it's still the work of a super-talented arranger and lyricist. On first listen it does sound a bit too in thrall to Highway 61-era Dylan, but a few more listens and its own charm and personality starts to come through strongly. If not quite a 5-star knockout, this is a very good album - 'Catacombs' and 'Lines Written in Winter' are stunning songs - and shows an exciting development. Nice work.
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on 6 December 2010
Ok, I understand that people can be disappointed by this change of direction, and maybe they are listening to this new album with skepticism. But Fionn shows here that he won't capitalize on his first album. It should have been probably easy for him to record something like a copy of his fabulous debut album, but, thanks God, he didn't do it. The result is a brillant follower with wonderful folk songs, as powerful as those from The End of History, but also some perfect more rock'n'roll pieces that prove how Fionn Regan can be a genious in different styles.
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on 29 July 2010
This is an extraordinary tour de force. Yes, some of songs veer towards pastiche of Dylan and Young but Regan is never just pastiche here: the lyrics sparkle and shine throughout. The pace of the album is finely judged and you move from more upbeat to slower songs. This is best new album I've heard this year. Listen to this album - you'll not be disappointed.
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on 14 August 2011
I was a bit disappointed at first listen, but as soon as I accepted that this was not End Of History part 2, I realized the album is nothing short of breathtakingly life affirming. Be open minded and you'll learn to love it.
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