a big, bolshy collection of steel guitars and shit-kicking drum beats
Sometimes you’ve just got to applaud ambition and The Shadow Of An Empire is nothing if not ambitious. It’s a restless album, overflowing with ideas and while not all of them work, you’ve still got to be impressed with the effort and the energy that’s gone into the making of it. There’s probably too much going on in each track than there needs to be but, again, you can’t fault the lad for effort. Fionn Regan has never struck me as somebody lacking self confidence and this latest album won’t change that. Ok, he’s from Wicklow but he sings like he’s from the other side of the pond, but we’ll forgive him that slightly if only because he’s trying so hard to entertain us. If you’re a fan of Americana then you’ll be in safe territory, because this is a big, bolshy collection of steel guitars and shit-kicking drum beats. If, however, you’ve got an affliction to all things Memphis Tennessee, then I suggest you turn yourself around right away and head in another direction.
The Shadow of an Empire is by no means a classic piece of work but it is a lot of fun. It’s ambition is also its downfall, however. Regan smothers his songs, overlaying too many elements when a bit of space would have served them better. They’re still good, but I reckon if you heard a lot of these songs played acoustic, just him and a guitar, then they’d probably feel a lot more personal. As it stands, the songs are weighed down by the heavy production and the sheer amount of noise that fill them out.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a very good album and somebody trying to stretch themselves and their sound can never be a truly bad thing, but if the lad can gain the confidence to reign himself in a bit when needed, he could be something exceptional. He’s got it in him, that’s for sure and it’s obvious that this guy is aiming for the stars. He may not be there yet, but it should be fun watching him try again next time.