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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.



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