Saturday, 6 December 2014

Donal de Blacam, Hypnagogia, Album Review

Info: One of the reasons I love music so much, aside from how enjoyable it is on so many levels, are the moments when you listen to an album and it affects you on another level, sometimes you have slow burners that end up becoming a life-long favourite, and other times you instantly understand that a piece of music has become something specifically appealing to you. Donal de Blacam's Hypnagogia had a bit of an emotional effect on me when I was listening to it this afternoon, somehow creating a gnawing internal sadness, not the type that makes you feel down, but the type that's a reaction to what your experiencing while listening to the music. The album starts with two tracks that summarise de Blacam's dual ability to write pensive and heart-rendering songs ('Saw The World') along with very accomplished and seemingly effortless rock song exemplified by 'Sweet Little Lie', which has a nice swagger about it, backing vocals and guitars wouldn't be out of place on a Primal Scream track.

The above title track, feels rooted in late 70's /early 80's rock when the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen were at their absolute peak. Before that comes the incredible track, 'Golden Orioles', de Blacam's vocals are earnest and disarming, and it quite reminds me of Scott Walker and though it doesn't sound like him, in a similar style to one of my favourite song-writers, Richard Hawley. 

'KissProof' is again full of swagger and the electric guitar playing is superb, the grittiness added to immeasurably by an interlude rant by the late great Reverand Ian Paisley! The song has a real blues rock sound to it complimented by the hammond sounding piano playing and reminds me of blue collar band Grand Funk Railroad or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Two other moving tracks come in the form of 'Chasing Aurora' and 'Close Behind', a combination of soulful vocals and music dripping with a magical ambience, at which point you feel totally immersed in the album. One particular highlight for me that establishes de Blacam's exceptional song-writing ability is 'If I Knew Out of the Blue', shades of Mic Christopher, 70's folk, and early Elvis which launches into more contemporary rock at the half-way point and bursts with energy. I haven't even mentioned the absolutely beautiful 'Wake Up Julie', you'll just have to listen to it for yourself. I've no doubt that Donal de Blacam is one of our best current song-writers, with lyrics that cross over into poetry, a wide musical range and what appears to be an innate understanding of how songs work, Hypnagogia should feature in some future miscellany or record of Irish albums, it's simply that good.

Donal de Blacam, 'Wake Up Julie'

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