Fionn Regan | The End of History (Lost Highway)

cd_fionnreganIn "Be Good or Be Gone," Regan embraces the best things about the singer/songwriter genre, creating a sincere, honest depiction of a man and his songs.







Few relatively unknown acoustic songsmiths have created as much buzz around the globe as young Fionn Regan. Hailing from Bray, Ireland, the shaggy-haired songbird imparts on his first stateside tour in support of his debut LP The End of History; a collection of acoustic narratives of hope, loss, and life.

"Be Good or Be Gone" serves as an impressive starting point for the album, showcasing all of Regan's greatest assets: extremely well-cultivated poetry, honest and angelic vocals, and interesting acoustic guitar work. The chorus chants "Be good or be/be gone" in an intentionally uneven flow, as if to highlight the sincerity of his words. These little nuances create a unique presence as I listen, which seems to surround me like an old friend who's come back from some great struggle, reciting tales in an effort to rekindle old bonds.

The opening tracks' polish typifies what I like least about the entire album. Backup vocals intend to support Regan's budding chorus, but instead serve to muddle things up in a one-second burp of soft rock. His flawlessly recorded vocals float over meager instrumentation, but I sometimes feel he'd be better off leaving some parts exposed, as he does in his impressive video for "Be Good or Be Gone" (available on YouTube). In it, he embraces the best things about the singer/songwriter genre, creating a sincere, honest depiction of a man and his songs. He avoids over-dubbing the album's audio track, and instead relies on himself to perform the song "live" at over 20 different locations, competing with ambient room noise, car horns, and elevator buzzing. The video cuts back and forth through a landscape of random places, including a rumbling laundry mat, muted library, and ticking clock shop. This video, coupled with a very similar one for "Snowy Atlas Mountains," expose how Regan's flaws are immensely outweighed by his gifts. His efforts to capture authenticity by recording in houses and barns turns moot when every blemish has carefully been removed.

Another highlight is "Snowy Atlas Mountains," coming in near the end of the album, its rich guitar, witty lyrics, and sparse cello work perfectly together. Regan's vocals swell over clever lines such as: "If you pull a hatchet/ I'll pull something to match it." He avoids sounding sentimental through much of the album, instead his disenchanted delivery compromises between the saccharine and the apathetic. The outcome is one of honesty and sincerity.

His clever lyrics and warm delivery, coupled with well-placed instrumentation, make The End of History a well-crafted statement of substance, albeit over-produced. All in all, the album carries itself well from start to finish. The maturity with which the youthful Regan scribes his songs, both complex and idiosyncratic, is impressive and should mark him as a strong prospect of his genre. I'd suggest picking this up if you're a fan of the genre, and definitely seeing him on his tour if at all possible. B+ | Glen Elkins

RIYL: Neil Young, Damien Rice, Jose Gonzalez

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