At odds with the or­di­nary

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

Al­ways cre­atively fleet­ing, Co Wick­low’s Fionn Re­gan has been an idiosyn­cratic pres­ence on the Ir­ish mu­sic scene since 2006, which is when his de­but al­bum, The End of

History, sneaked up on ev­ery­one. “Folk has a new Pied Piper,” pro­nounced the

Guardian, as the al­bum went on to be nom­i­nated for both the Choice and Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize.

With any­one else, you might have ex­pected the Pied Piper tag to be tied around his neck like a smart dickie bow, with Re­gan will­ing to cap­i­talise on The End of History’s skele­tal del­i­cacy and nim­ble gui­tar work. Clearly, he had other ideas.

In in­ter­views, the singer-song­writer an­swers ques­tions in metaphors and sim­i­les, but his songs are clear-cut and trans­par­ent – odd as Be­ja­sus, oc­ca­sion­ally, but very fo­cused. The Meetings of the Wa­ters – his first al­bum since 2012’s The Bunkhouse Vol. 1: An­chor Black Tat­too – con­tin­ues with an in­trigu­ing mix­ture of the same.

Con­structed while he was un­der­go­ing a cri­sis of con­science (he was se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing for­go­ing mu­sic for vis­ual art), there’s an out­sider sen­si­bil­ity that drives the mu­sic along av­enues not usu­ally taken.

Son­i­cally, too, the mu­sic is at de­light­ful odds with the or­di­nary – it’s al­most as if Re­gan wants to loop au­ral con­nec­tions di­rectly from his de­but al­bum (re­leased, tellingly, on Bella Union, co-founded by Cocteau Twins’ mem­bers Si­mon Ray­monde and Robin Guthrie) to this one. As you might ex­pect, the song tem­plate is acous­tic, quiet and con­tem­pla­tive – ten­der, el­e­men­tal lyrics trip off the tongue, too – while there’s an un­der­cur­rent of un­ease that is guided by the use of sub­tle elec­tron­ica.

In­deed, the fi­nal track could be a sign of even fur­ther change: Tsuneni Ai (the Ja­panese for Re­gan’s own record la­bel) is 12 min­utes of word­less shim­mer and rip­ple, by turns spec­tral and light­headed, and the closer of an al­bum that is as wholly im­pres­sive as it is agree­ably in­scrutable. fion­nre­

FIONN RE­GAN The Meetings of the Wa­ters ★★★★ Al­ways Love

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