Ireland Rock N’ Soul
Fade in to a folk-rock jam session. The drummer has had one too many. The man on the clarinet has had just the right amount. It is near enough the end of the evening that someone got a synthesizer out and nobody is upset about it. The tune marches to a halt with just enough flourish to show that they meant it. Thus is track one, and it is not representative of anything else on the record.
That is the charm, of course, with Paddy Hanna’s second album. Each track moves through sounds that are fresh while at the same time familiar, never resting too long on a particular style or motif. Here is Bad Boys, a fast-moving lounge tune that would have a place on any French romance soundtrack of the ’60s, were it not for the Irish-English whispered over-top. Skip ahead to Mario Lanza, a blue-eyed soul cut with a near-perfect hook. Later we hear Spanish Smoke, a track that invokes the psych-surf spirits of yore. Even the titular Frankly, I Mutate stands out from the crowd of stand-outs, embracing gallop and schmaltz in a way that still manages to be sincere.
These varied works should be as disparate as anything, but instead they are threaded together by lush, well-played instrumentation and an expressive, far-reaching vocal performance. The arrangement swells at times with horns and strings while contracting at others to the rock-essentials, but the production is quite nice on this record and never keeps you wanting for sound, no matter the genetics of a given track.
These are songs about living and love and living without love. Taken one by one, each tune has its own luster. The whole, though, is lovely in both pacing and presentation, and very easy to listen to on repeat in the background or foreground.