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Irish singer/songwriter Pat Dam Smyth's rollicking carnival of an album features hints of The Kinks interspersed with Seasick Steve and The Beatles.
I believe that you can tell an artist who is writing from the heart and writing songs that they want to hear from one who is writing to a commercial brief and generally I put the latter into the bin after first listen - I may have missed some deep and great music along the way but I have stuck with some absolute gems. This album definitely falls into the 'Gem' category.
Smyth is Irish, been around for many years and has played with the likes of Paul Weller. He is also a commanding figure on stage where his brooding and manic figure seems slightly at odds with his soft voice and humour.
This album is clearly drawn from deep in his heart, touching on themes of love and loss and occasionally a surreal imagery.
The music isn't totally original - you can hear influences of The Kinks and The Beatles in his sound as well as folkies like Donovan - but it is completely fresh and vibrant. It is easy to play pick the influence but you will miss the great songs and the heart that goes into every number.
From the opener 'Candy' where he sings with a huge drum pounding behind his faltering vocals, almost sounding as though he was singing into a megaphone, before the song starts to break down into a manic barroom singalong with piano and guitar and boozy voices you are hooked. The songs are perfect vehicles to burrow into your brain and take up residence but you don't mind - these are great songs to have to hand.
The single 'Friends' is a wonder, as catchy as hell carrying you along and then exploding into a huge, bouncy question mark.
'U' is a simple melodic ditty. String laden and utterly saccharine but you cannot help but smile at it and given the right exposure it could be the valentine's song for the masses.
Every track is a unique statement, something special and with more quirks than a zanyfest but always with great melodies and heart.
There are more sombre numbers than 'U' of course. The title track is dark and melancholic while 'The Dark Knight Of The Soul' is heartfelt and keening, possibly the best track on the album and deeply effective.
This album deserves to be given exposure if only to show people how good songs can be when the artist is making the music because he feels the songs.
This is one of the best albums I've heard this year by far and definitely the most enjoyable. Smiles all round barman.
Review by Andy Snipper http://www.music-news.com/
Black vinyl, single sleeve, lyric insert, download card.
1. Candy (2:21)
2. Friends (3:06)
3. U (2:47)
4. Riches To Rags (3:20)
5. Set In Stone (2:25)
6. The Great Divide (4:27)
7. Dark Knight Of The Soul (3:39)
1. Yellow Line (3:14)
2. Willow's Song (4:03)
3. Hole In The Sky (3:09)
4. Ides Of March I (3:24)
5. Ides Of March II (5:19)
6. Slip John (4:42)