The Deer’s CrySelf-released ****
Sometimes you can make it on your own. Especially if you’re Stevie Scullion, whose previous membership in Lurgan folk trio Cat Malojian generated two perfectly likeable albums in 2008 and 2009, but whose solo material indubitably trumps anything that’s come before.
The previous band’s name was a pun on the vernacular slangword for “awful”, but the thirtysomething songwriter can remove his tongue from his cheek for his first album as a solo artist. The Deer’s Cry amps up Scullion’s previously chartered winsome Elliott Smith-aping melodies to 11 on songs such as Watch the Rain and All I Need, the latter bolstered by a chorus of stringed instruments that gently sweep it along.
Both songs are indicative of how Scullion’s songwriting has progressed in the space of three years, yet so too is the album’s overall pacing and variation in style. The melancholic tone of several early tracks is countered by the sweet slouch of indie-rock tunes such the title track, which is swathed in dreamy Cashier
No 9-style production, or Julie-Anne, an infectious love song with a warm, piano-supplemented and harmony-crooned chorus.
The brilliant Checkmate rounds out the album’s midsection with a fuzzy, grungy garage kick. Mario (You Brought All the Computers) even includes a cheeky guitar-plucked tribute to the Super Mario Bros videogame soundtrack.
Creating such a musical balance is crucial to The Deer’s Cry overall success, but so is the lyrical equilibrium between sincere balladry and light-
hearted ditties about “onions, gravy, mashed potato and chicken”, as heard on The Tea-Time Song, a tune suggestive of some of Duke Special’s more teasing fare.
The result is a well-rounded, hugely accomplished album to both swoon and shake a leg to.
Download: Julie-Anne, Checkmate