Malo­jian master de­buts

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - LAU­REN MURPHY

MALO­JIAN

The Deer’s Cry Self-re­leased

Some­times you can make it on your own. Es­pe­cially if you’re Ste­vie Scul­lion, whose pre­vi­ous mem­ber­ship in Lur­gan folk trio Cat Malo­jian gen­er­ated two per­fectly like­able al­bums in 2008 and 2009, but whose solo ma­te­rial in­du­bitably trumps any­thing that’s come be­fore.

The pre­vi­ous band’s name was a pun on the ver­nac­u­lar slang­word for “aw­ful”, but the thir­tysome­thing song­writer can re­move his tongue from his cheek for his first al­bum as a solo artist. The Deer’s Cry amps up Scul­lion’s pre­vi­ously char­tered win­some El­liott Smith-ap­ing melodies to 11 on songs such as Watch the Rain and All I Need, the lat­ter bol­stered by a cho­rus of stringed in­stru­ments that gen­tly sweep it along.

Both songs are in­dica­tive of how Scul­lion’s song­writ­ing has pro­gressed in the space of three years, yet so too is the al­bum’s over­all pac­ing and vari­a­tion in style. The melan­cholic tone of sev­eral early tracks is coun­tered by the sweet slouch of in­die-rock tunes such the ti­tle track, which is swathed in dreamy Cashier No 9-style pro­duc­tion, or Julie-Anne, an in­fec­tious love song with a warm, pi­ano-sup­ple­mented and har­mony­crooned cho­rus.

The bril­liant Check­mate rounds out the al­bum’s mid­sec­tion with a fuzzy, grungy garage kick. Mario (You Brought All the Com­put­ers) even in­cludes a cheeky gui­tarplucked trib­ute to the Su­per Mario Bros videogame sound­track.

Cre­at­ing such a mu­si­cal bal­ance is cru­cial to The Deer’s Cry over­all success, but so is the lyri­cal equi­lib­rium be­tween sin­cere bal­ladry and light­hearted dit­ties about “onions, gravy, mashed potato and chicken”, as heard on The Tea-Time Song, a tune sug­ges­tive of some of Duke Spe­cial’s more teas­ing fare.

The re­sult is a well-rounded, hugely ac­com­plished al­bum to both swoon and shake a leg to. malo­jian.com Down­load: Julie-Anne, Check­mate

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