I say this a lot; so much so it can even sound blase to my own ears. But this little country of ours is bursting full of talent of so many genres that I am almost literally pummeled with quality on a daily basis. Without giving the game away, I have a series of reviews coming up which, to the casual observer, may seem like hometown refereeing, like the foam-mouthed rantings of a crusader. Well, ok. I AM crusading a bit here. I AM a believer. A believer that we don’t have to sit here in NI and wait for the latest cool act to come out of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, or even Dublin to decide to include NI as part of their tour. We have great acts already here, already playing in our venues, already releasing music of great quality. All we have to do is take the time to listen, to remove the gloss of hype that a record company can give any artist it chooses to push, and listen to one of our own. Maybe the fact you’re reading my column, means I am preaching to the converted but, if you were teetering on the brink of being born again, take the plunge.
The first of this run of unbelievable quality is Ryan McMullan from Portaferry. Already likened to local hero, Foy Vance, and tipped for good things by Across The Line, I am clearly not the first to champion young Ryan. I say young, well aware, given my lengthening years, that anyone under 30 tends to look young to me now. But, he clearly IS still a young man and that is what is so promising about this guy. His voice (what a voice!), his sound, his song-writing is so mature, so polished and self-assured that it surely has to lead to good things. Talent this good should not be ignored, should not be passed over for one of those Landaners or Scousers etc. ‘Holding Me Down’ is a great tune: memorable, hooky, punchy, smooth.
So, how does this happen – how do we get our own should-be stars noticed? Well, it starts with you and I, and all other would-be fans, taking the time and trouble to listen to artists like Ryan and support him – be it ‘likes’ on social media, buying his music, going to see him live and buying his merchandise. This is how it starts and every artist, no matter where they come from, has to start in the same way before anyone at any higher level will take notice. So, start ‘liking’, start buying and start enjoying someone as good as Ryan McMullan. I know I intend to.