Fionn Regan – The Meetings of the Waters review: at odds with the ordinary

The Meetings of the Waters
    
Artist: Fionn Regan
Genre: Alternative
Label: Always Love/Tsuneni Ai

Always creatively fleeting, Co Wicklow's Fionn Regan has been an idiosyncratic presence on the Irish music scene since 2006, which is when his debut album, The End of History, sneaked up on everyone. "Folk has a new Pied Piper," pronounced the Guardian, as the album went on to be nominated for both the Choice and Mercury Music Prize.

With anyone else, you might have expected the Pied Piper tag to be tied around his neck like a smart dickie bow, with Regan willing to capitalise on The End of History's skeletal delicacy and nimble guitar work. Clearly, he had other ideas.

In interviews, the singer-songwriter answers questions in metaphors and similes, but his songs are clear-cut and transparent – odd as Bejasus, occasionally, but very focused. The Meetings of the Waters – his first album since 2012's The Bunkhouse Vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo – continues with an intriguing mixture of the same.

Constructed while he was undergoing a crisis of conscience (he was seriously considering forgoing music for visual art), there’s an outsider sensibility that drives the music along avenues not usually taken.


Sonically, too, the music is at delightful odds with the ordinary – it’s almost as if Regan wants to loop aural connections directly from his debut album (released, tellingly, on Bella Union, co-founded by Cocteau Twins’ members, Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie) to this one. As you might expect, the song template is acoustic, quiet and contemplative – tender, elemental lyrics trip off the tongue, too – while there’s an undercurrent of unease that is guided by the use of subtle electronica.

Indeed, the final track could be a sign of even further change: Tsuneni Ai (the Japanese for Regan's own record label) is 12 minutes of wordless shimmer and ripple, by turns spectral and lightheaded, and the closer of an album that is as wholly impressive as it is agreeably inscrutable.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture