Album: Fionn Regan, The Shadow of an Empire (Heavenly)

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The Independent Culture

For this follow-up to his 2007 debut The End Of History, Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan has discarded his former folksy acoustic approach for folk-rock band arrangements, unashamedly apeing the transitional Dylan of Bringing It All Back Home.

It's not entirely successful – "Protection Racket" is a verbose but aimless rockabilly anti-rich broadside that's not so much Dylan-esque as Ryan Adams-esque, while "Genocide Matinee" is a would-be "Desolation Row" or "115th Dream" which only occasionally nails a telling lyrical image. Things improve with "Violent Demeanour", a portrait of a brutalised society set to rippling acoustic arpeggios punctuated by rousing band choruses, while "House Detective" applies the pungent momentum of "Maggie's Farm". The production doesn't do Regan any favours – the overdubbed instrumental parts are sometimes too starkly separated to produce the desired loose, band-like swagger – but the rolling, homely groove of "Little Nancy" and declamatory rhythm guitar clangour of "Genocide Matinee" are well-wrought enough. It's not the stone classic some have suggested, but it's impressive enough to arouse anticipation for Regan's next outing, which at this rate should be his Blood On The Tracks.

Download this Violent Demeanour; House Detective; Genocide Matinee