Singer-songwriter Mark Geary has had a varied career since the release of his 2002 debut, 33 1/3
Grand Street. While the Dubliner’s subsequent albums were mostly well-received, and his songs have been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, he’s never really had a bona fide hit. Given the undoubted quality of his work (‘Volunteer’ remains one of this reviewer’s all-time favorite Irish songs), this is something of an injustice.
The Fool is Geary’s fifth studio album and, by his own admission, he’s referring to himself and his sheer doggedness in that title. There’s little or no anger in these eleven superbly crafted songs of hope, faith, loss, regret and hardwon wisdom (clues come in titles such as ‘Lesson Learned’ and ‘Don’t
Break’). He’s not straying from his artistic path and he’s certainly not changing his sound. For the most part, smoothened by Gráinne Hunt’s backing vocals, these are mellow, country-tinged rock songs.
First single ‘Battle of Troy’ is an intensely hummable number with a catchy chorus: “That’s when the room caught fire/ I’ll never look again/ That’s when the room caught fire/ Burn all the books you can.” Break-up song ‘Lesson Learned’, meanwhile, is like a short story: “You’re calling to say that’s it/ You want me to pack my shit into black bags/ Lesson learned.” The melancholic ‘Happy’ is deceptively titled: “Storm clouds come and they crack/ Body blows at the back… Happy songs make me sad/ God knows why I think that”.
Somehow I can’t see this being the album that massively changes MArk Geary’s fortunes, but there’s absolutely nothing foolish about any artist who sticks to their guns.
OUT NOW / OLAF TYARANSEN
MARK GEARY The Fool SONABLAST RECORDS ‘The Fool’ 8/10