Many moons ago I had the pleasure of playing at a charity night in Lurgan, this may sound a little strange but stay with me. On that bill was a superb band by the name of Captain Kennedy. They totally blew me away…and off the stage for that matter but I’m happy to let it go. The singer in particular left an impression with his unique vocal laid over great songs. Time moved on and the musical landscape changed, bands fell by the wayside and new artists came onto the scene. It was such a wonderful surprise when I heard Ciaran Lavery’s ‘Not Nearly Dark’ and put two and two together, realising who I was listening to. Needless to say when there was talk of a new E.P. in the pipeline I was excited to hear the new material and see what the troubadour had up his sleeve this time.
‘Kosher’ opens with ‘Left For America’. The first few bars of acoustic guitar are familiar territory and you’d be forgiven for thinking this E.P. was going to follow in the footsteps of his previous release. With the vocal comes a steady rhythm on the drums and slowly but surely more instrumentation sneaks in throughout the song. Mixed beautifully to the point that you don’t really realise but by the end of the track you’re listening to a full band affair! The subtlety of the instrumentation and the backing vocals is wholly sympathetic to the song allowing you to hear the intimacy of the vocal and lyrics but also tap your foot along.
This sets the scene for the entire E.P. and it’s clear to see that Ciaran is perhaps taking a different approach with this one and being a bit more experimental in the studio. ‘Sophmore Rising’ has a great use of drums and percussion that pushes the song along but doesn’t become too intrusive, never taking away from the man with the voice who carries us to an empassioned crescendo of ‘pray to god and the stars we’ll make it out’.
‘A Ragtime Song’ sees us on slightly more familiar ground with a traditional structure of song in keeping with ‘Left For America’. Perhaps it feels a little more commercial however the inventive production stops it being anything run of the mill. The final track ‘Orphan’ is a foot stomping tune that you can’t help but sing along to. I can assure you that played live with a full band this track will have you dancing all night long.
This latest release secures Ciaran Lavery’s place as one of the most exciting artists in Northern Ireland. He is clearly someone who is continuing to develop as a songwriter and is happy to experiment and be creative with this process. I wait in anticipation to see where this journey takes him next.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ Left For America ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ Ray Lamontagne | Keaton Henson ▶