Friday, 7 November 2014

Album Review - Barry Tierney, 'Hotel Alamar'

Barry Tierney, 'Rosie Ale of England'

Info: There's a palpable passion and sincerity in the music of Barry Tierney, the 24-year-old troubadour who comes from a rich musical heritage going back to his great-grandfather and grand-uncle, both of whom were music professors. The only way to explain the diversity of his music at such a young age is the fact that he began playing music at 11, initially by way of the saxophone and jazz before picking up the guitar and writing his own songs at the age of 14. Tierney's been in a succession of bands with varying highs and lows and has now decided to strike out on his own, the product of which is his debut album, Hotel Alamar, which was released last week. 

The opening track, 'London Burning Shadows', is a nod to one of Tierney's heroes (with whom he has previously shared a stage) Christy Moore, but different in the sense that it bursts out a different kind of energy, with nice string arrangements and some fantastic backing vocals. I instantly fell for the next song, 'Rosie Ale of England', in a strange way it's as if Phil Lynott and Van Morrison's voices have been made into a hybrid vocal, and it is very reminiscent of the latter's Veedon Fleece (see 'Streets of Arklow'), it's one of those happy-sad songs, you know you're supposed to be smiling but you just feel upset! 'Philadelphia' is closer to an American country-folk feel, which makes sense given the title I suppose, and shows the Kinsale man's ability to tell stories through his music which is evident throughout Hotel Alamar, as the track closes it goes from traditional to contemporary seamlessly. The album finishes very strongly in my opinion, firstly with 'San Diego' which feels like a multitude of 70's solo artists, and the music is nothing short of enchanting for the final third, slow drum beats, tinkling piano, those backing vocals again and some lovely brass, and then 'Continuing to Waltz' which is like an extension of 'San Diego' with a monologue from Tierney thrown in to add to the atmosphere. 

In a nutshell, Barry Tierney seems to have a startling array of musical influences, all of which are good, but his home-schooling in the world of music, in addition to a distinct song-writing gift, leads the listener to think that he could be an album or two away from getting recognition well beyond Irish shores.

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