Ed McGinley: Tangled Roots & Twisted Tales review – A slow-burning pleasure

Musician’s debut solo recording is all the better for its lengthy gestation

Tangled Roots & Twisted Tales
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Artist: Ed McGinley
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Sonic Justice

Having cut his teeth with The Winters, Ed McGinley took his own sweet time in making his debut solo recording – and it’s all the better for its lengthy gestation. Thoughtful, spacious and buoyed by the kind of attentive arrangements that let the songs breathe free, Tangled Roots & Twisted Tales is a treasure trove that yields fresh discoveries with each listen.

With three gloriously raggedy covers of songs from Tim Hardin, Hank Williams and Bill Fay, McGinley traces a picaresque path around a fistful of fine original compositions. You're Never Coming Back and Tattoo On My Heart are very fine calling cards that sit easily alongside Hardin's civil war ballad Shiloh Town.

McGinley’s strengths lie in the low-key finesse of his lyrics and his finely tuned instincts for the bare bones of a story. His vocals are less sure-footed, but find strong purchase on a number of his own organically-grown songs.

With a superb band that includes Garvan Gallagher on bass and James Delaney on organ, there's ample room for fiddle, flugelhorn, and other brass contributions that glisten in the cool haze. A languid, slow-burning pleasure.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts