The Shadow Of An Empire

Fionn Regan

Heavenly Records/Universal, 2010

REVIEW BY: Peter Vissers


Fionn Regan’s debut album, The End Of History, was undoubtedly one of the best releases by a singer-songwriter in years. Regan’s songs were intimate, authentic, and warm. Some compared him to Damien Rice, others to Neil Young. With his second record, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Shadow Of An Empire, the Irishman has chosen a new musical path.

It can be hard for someone like Fionn Regan to step out of the shadows of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Regan decided to not even try. His second album is far from inventive. The first track, “Protection Racket,” clearly shows this. It’s very cheerful but sounds like a crossover between Bob Dylan and The Libertines. The same goes for “Catacombs.” It sounds absolutely great, but the nasal singing and Dylan-like phrasing are a bit worrying. Fortunately Dylan’s not his only influence. “Genocide Matinee” is a rockabillyish tune that reminds me of Supergrass and Johnny Cash.

Regan’s previous record was largely acoustic, but there are only a few acoustic songs on The Shadow Of An Empire. “Violent Demeanor,” a Leonard Cohen-style song starts off with just a guitar and vocals, but eventually a piano, electric guitar, and drums join in. Its chorus sounds a bit too much like Razorlight for my liking, but it’s a decent track. “Lines Written In Winter” could’ve been on his previous album. It has the lyrical brilliance of Leonard Cohen mixed with, again, a bit of Dylan. “Little Nancy” is astonishing: the dragging beat, banjo, and harmonica make it sound a bit like The Pogues with a hint of Ryan Adams.

The Shadow Of An Empire
is not very avant-garde, but it is a fun, pleasant record that will lift your spirits. It doesn’t contain many songs as good as, for example, “Put A Penny In The Slot” but as a whole it is a robust and satisfying album. Fionn Regan has again proved to be a fine songwriter and lyrical genius.

Rating: B+

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