Fionn Regan - The Bunkhouse Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo
Record Label: Universal
Release Date: January 28, 2013
You’ve got to hand it to Fionn Regan. It’s been six years and four albums since he released his debut album, The End Of History, a record that was met with excitable critics talking about ‘Ireland’s answer to Bob Dylan’. Then he released The Shadow Of An Empire, and was met with excitable claims such as ‘it’s like when Bob Dylan went electric!’. A year after his sophomore album he released 100 Acres Of Sycamore, and it was greeted with ‘he’s still like Bob Dylan, but a little more professional’ and so, here we are, with his fourth album The Bunkhouse Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo... and I’ll give you a few guesses as to what it sounds like.
The Bunkhouse Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo leaves behind the shinier edge that Regan adopted during the making of his last album and replaces it with ten tracks of bare bones folk music, created using only a four track recorder and one microphone. Overall, the album runs at a mere twenty five minutes and Regan himself suggested that he considers this to be more of a punk album rather than folk. Whilst the idea that it’s a punk album is quite obviously untrue, it’s easy to see what he was getting at. The record is straight up folk music. No value has been wasted on production or attempts to impress an audience, this is one man, an acoustic guitar and a set of poetic lyrics. The overall aesthetic of the album is admirable, even if it doesn’t quite lend itself to making the best music possible.
The album itself is extremely pleasant. We’re dealing with Fionn Regan here, the man has an inability to write something unpleasant. His vocals are both warm and relaxing as his voice wraps itself around finger picked guitars and not quite sad, but certainly not upbeat melodies. Although often simplistic, Regan’s lyrics are typically image provoking and poetic. Every song holds a story - “Midnight Ferry Crossing” and “Salt & Cloves” being two lyrical highlights that draw the listener in until they get lost in Regan’s pretty, sweet world. This is an album that can warm the coldest of hearts and fight off the most wintery night.
However, although every track is pleasant, it feels like there’s something more needed. Whilst “Midnight Ferry Crossing” and “Anchor Black Tattoo” are subtly catchy in their own way. There’s no track on the album that’s overly striking. Whilst In The Shadow Of An Empire was jam packed with highlights and tracks that drew the listener back time and time again, when The Bunkhouse Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo finishes, there’s very little to remember. No track has particular long term resonance and although Regan is showcasing his songwriting on this release, it feels like it’s lacking that extra bite. Although the idea of such a simplistic recording process is fresh and highly admirable, it’s an important time for Regan’s career to develop and prove that he’s not just another Dylan, but this album fails to capacitate his growth as an artist. If you’re looking for something heartwarming in the short term or an album to warm cold nights, give The Bunkhouse Vol 1: Anchor Black Tattoo a go, however here’s hoping that the second volume of The Bunkhouse holds something a little more defined and innovative.