Decades after the relevant influence, meaningful sounds and simple yet powerful ballads of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon it would appear the music scene has become a Michael Bay movie. Sure it is full of glitz and glam and lots of effects, but after it is over, we’re no different than we were when we went in.
A time has come to rally behind a sound that reincarnates the feelings we had the first time we sat down and listened to music with substance. That sound is Sound.
Brooklyn based Irish singer/songwriter Niall Connolly is easily unlike anything I have heard in a very long time. Sure, he has qualities that draw comparisons almost right off the bat, but as whole, he has left a profound impact on this music fan.
Dancing around an indie-folk persona, Connolly holds the essence of Jackson Browne, delivery of Dylan and the edge of Joe Strummer; only Connolly is no Pretender, he is the real deal. His elegant music is effortless, awesome and moving; it is so natural, it feels instantly familiar.
His eleven track (twelve on CD) album Sound is an intimately intelligent folk exploration through the eyes of reality. From addicting to thought provoking lyrics, from driving to sparse instrumentals, from a touch of melody to sharp delivery this is an album that holds all the cards but needs no opponent; you’ll only end up rooting for it anyway.
From the immediately catchy “It’s not about me/I’m only here for a minute” of “Samurai” on through the call to arms to put down your cell phones and social media and be human again in “Come Back To The Table,” every chord, every line and every empty space had me clinging to this album. Connolly’s ability to embody the effortless songwriter poetic spirit that seemed to have died when the world moved from Dylan type aesthetic, leaves no doubt in my mind he is authentic.
Anyone else in Connolly’s place would come across angry, but his delivery is pure heart. In “Lily of the Mohawks” he passionately belts out “The invisible man is bagging/groceries at your store” before shouting “you know exactly who I mean!/you just never talk with him before” and in “Beef Or Salmon,” horns accompanying, he sings “her father’s father was a rich man/if only for a while/he was only mean when he went drinking/he went drinkin’ all the time!” Track by track, just as I did, you will have no trouble finding lyrics to get behind and passionately belt out.
Though his abilities are incredibly strong, and his vocals doused in passion, he also shows a softer, no less insightful, side with “Place I Promised I’d Go” as he laments “Time is measured out/between places I’ve been/and places I promised I’d go”
On the whole, when this album comes to an end, like a kid and a rollercoaster ride, I run to the beginning and start it all over again. It has its fair share of ups and downs, but handles them with exhilarating precision. One listen to Niall Connolly and I have no doubt you too will become a fan.