Album Review: Marc O’Reilly – Human Herdings

Back to the grindstone this week and what better way to acknowledge that than some music that seems fit for working at a grindstone, the moody blues of Marc O’Reilly. It’s time to celebrate the place of  the blues in Ireland and one of its finest exponents.

I haven’t heard music with such energy as this in a while. Marc was a unknown to me until I came across some previews for this album. I have Unbeknownst to myself Marc has already one lp release under his arm. His first record “My Friend Marx” (which I have discussed more on this blog before) contained all the elements that would form a foundation for his next release “Human Herdings”. The album here is a divergent mix of what you can do in the blues genre without settling on any one methos or style within that genre. Moving from full force blues to some soaring arpeggio arrangements, over nine tracks this record has it all.

The first single to be released off the album certainly makes up sit up and listen. Building from the opening riff, the melody is brightened up with bursts of guitar met with a mellow breakdown only to return to infectious aggressive melody again.

The second single off the album and as near as the album gets to a title track, ‘The Wayward Shepard’ is a rumbling, meditative fusion of guitar licks and a heavy rhythm section. Setting the scene gently, almost approaching you quietly, the song quickly escalates into a addictive, rolling melody. The live version recorded for Press Record TV is even more compelling that the album version and demonstrates that this record is full of songs that are not in need of any superfluous additions, just guitars and drums.

What is appealing about the album is that you never know what is around the corner next. The album skilfully moves from aggressive blues to the more sedate acoustic led numbers where Marc’s voice takes on a more hushed tone and his skills with a guitar shine. Of these songs, ‘Bleed’ is probably my favourite and the stand-out. With its perfectly placed trickle of piano keys, the song is given plenty of space to manoeuvre and breathe. This space makes the words more affecting as you gently settle into the rhythm. You can listen to that track and the finger-picking led ‘Lighthouse’ here. here.

What is great about this album is that it doesn’t hang around. This is nine tracks of brevity yes, yet full of intensity. It’s just when the final seconds fade on the closing track ‘Fallen’ that you feel you can catch your breath. A superb record, demonstrating the skill of a master writer and performer, ‘Human Herdings’ is a record that grasps you from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the harmonious end.

You can download the album through iTunes. Check out his official website for more information and the like.Or for socail media types, check out his Facebook.

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