Musical scores and screen (television or cinema) go hand-in-hand for the purpose of conveying the emotion intended that cannot be achieved via script. There’s a beauty in that thought when considering an album alone conveys the emotion and our minds play out the scene.
Belfast, Ireland singer/songwriter Gareth Dunlop has staked a claim to fame incorporating his music into both film and television. Successes such as Lucifer, This is Us, Best of Me, and Disney, but it is in his new record, our minds are the landscape in which his story is told.
Dunlop revealed “a great piece of advice I once received was to ‘write like no-one will ever hear it.’ It tricks my brain into being more honest with myself than I normally would.” Holding true to this, Animal, the ten-track release, is born of honesty and reaching deep within.
Animal feels like we’re wandering through the forest alone, looking to find ourselves, when we stumbled upon a man sitting next to a campfire with a guitar who invites us over, weaves a web of songs that exist within a synth-backed, echoing vivid landscape, then sends us on our way, enlightened and reflective. Dunlop’s pastoral presence combines with the deep canyons and soaring peaks of his sound to translate into nothing short of a raw baptismal audible journey that leaves us changed, even if only slightly, at the outset. Animal showcases an instinctual-level delivery that balances on vocal a pinhead leaning on angst and trepidation somewhere between Andrew Bird and Guy Garvey. It is, unequivocally, a profound demonstration of songwriting equally executed in a vividly captivating gravitas of vocal delivery and precise musicianship.
Substantively poetic without pretense, Gareth Dunlop achieves an arching sense of sound that spans influence from decades past, woven into modern effects that set sail on a river of one’s own senses. Beginning with energy and swells that instantly captivate in the title track, Animal slowly tappers into the lulls of “Prisoner Of My Past” which reflect on an acceptance rather than a release.
There are few albums that embed themselves so deeply in one’s self, that speak to us on such a deep level, while simultaneously lifting us off the ground and evoking such an impassioned call to life, Animal does precisely that and does so with just the first track. Dunlop could have, by all accounts, sat back and cashed royalty checks from an already successful span. It is quite obvious however, the musicianship within him cannot allow that to happen. The result is the captivatingly honest Animal.