“I’ve learned not to care that half the town is nothing and the rest are millionaires”
Joel Harkin is special; a preeminent force in literary lyricism spinning yarns for a blank generation cynical of conflict, the establishment, and most of all the cerebral climate of anxiety afflicting us all (thanks establishment!). He spins another of these delayed yarns in his distinct Donegal drawl; ‘No Recycling‘.
A banal tale of parents, provincial preoccupations, and rubbish, there’s this isolated throbbing pulse bookending the track, present throughout to cushion the track with a gentle but racked energy. Joel’s charm and mass appeal across the island is born of his niche Northern soul. There are familiar inflexions for us northerners and the Cult-of-Conor-Oberst in drawn out vowels and cautious consonants that are always conversational. Joel says more with less. Hemingway succinctness. The interpolation of Gaelige and Spanish supplants the local setting with a distorted perception; it’s honest. Joel’s ruminations on the Holy Human Habit of detachedly accepting disproportionate classist privilege is a nihilistic bewilderment that follows him around his town like a Mormon raincloud only reverbed arpeggios can shake off.
Most impressive however is Joel’s environmental conceit with which he marries the state of the world with the state of his mind, the town being a microcosm of the world at large. This ingenious move is extremely personal yet also extremely welcoming for the listener to apply the same thinking to their surroundings and glean some sort of meaning in existing in a specific time and place. Phenomenology is one of many deeply affecting techniques Joel uses to sit us down beside him, not in front of him.
Joel Harkin sounds proud to come from the land of saints, scholars, and maudlin maestros.