Grown Up Folk Songs of Romance and Life.
With the benefit of hindsight I should have played this record all day yesterday; which was St. Patrick’s Day as I can’t think of anything more quintessentially ‘Irish’ than this, Eamon Friel’s latest release.
Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that this is ‘fiddly-dee,’ music by numbers for the tourists or worse still; dreadful songs about the ‘Auld Brigade’; but actually a series of warm, personal, mature and insightful songs and stories from a man who has ‘lived a life’ and makes no pretence about hiding his natural N’orn Irish brogue.
As the simply constructed first track, The Old Songs drifts from the speakers I defy listeners of a certain age’ not to let their bottom lip quiver; as Eamon remembers meeting up after school singing the hit songs from the radio with his mates; and now whenever he hears these ‘old songs’ on the radio he romantically wonders if these friends who are spread around the four corners still ‘sing them today.’
That’s the beauty of Eamon Friel, he takes a simple thread of an idea and rolls it around in his special brand of musical magic to make it into a lovely romantic Folk Song.
Normally I would close the curtains on a day like he describes in Wind and Rain; but the singer makes it into a powerful metaphor for love; and that word ‘romantic’ springs to mind again; and not for the last time among these 11 songs. Plus any song that features a man whistling in tune get a bonus mark at RMHQ!
Mrs. Magpie turned to me and furrowed her eyebrows when she first heard Benediction, last week; but by the time this clever song ended she was actually smiling and looking off wistfully into the middle distance, as Friel’s delicate words hung in the air around us.
Tucked away in the middle of the album is a really fascinating song; Unspoken Love; a song that is so deep and personal I sat in awe as I pressed ‘repeat’ to take in all of the nuances this enigma of a love song throw up.
Two years ago Friel released a 4 track EP called Takeaway and the quirky and humorous title track makes another appearance here; but I urge you to find this gem to hear the other three songs too.
In the modern idiom it’s not easy to pin-point Eamon Friel, as he is certainly a Folk Singer, but I think there’s a lot more to him than that restrictive title bestows; as he has a lot more of the observational singer-songwriters Randy Newman’s and Northern Ireland’s finest, Bap Kennedy in his songs The Hammer, Street of Song and the fragile title track Atlantic Light.
ATLANTIC LIGHT is a fully formed grown-up and even intelligent album, that needs the listener to close their eyes and listen intently to it’s contents; none more so than the song that has captured my heart and is therefore the RMHQ Favourite Song; Between The Day and Night. It’s a love song Jim; but not one as you know it. This is an Irish love song that captures the poetry of loving, losing and never giving up hope that no other nation can dream of writing in such a manner.
Perhaps Friel’s ‘modern romanticism’ comes from being born in London to Irish parents; one from the South the other the North and then moving to to the Six Counties as a young child where he has since made a succesful career in radio; or perhaps it’s just in his genes.