Peter Doran: Voices review – The music is willing but the lyrics are weak

Doran has just about enough of his own thing going on, even if doubts linger

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Artist: Peter Doran
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Self-Released

Mullingar singer-songwriter Peter Doran is one of many independent Irish musicians who have benefited from the MISP (Music Industry Stimulus Package) grant allocated by the Department of Culture. Despite being mostly under the radar, however, Doran isn't a newcomer: Voices is his fifth album. And while it looks towards the direction of reedy native music acts such as Fionn Regan, Damien Rice and the possibly long-forgotten Prayer Boat (whose Emmet Tinley features here), it also eyeballs the US in the form of the Felice Brothers and early-ish Bob Dylan.

Reference points aside, Doran has (just about) enough of his own thing going on, even if doubts linger. The plus points are songs that benefit from full-bodied textures provided by Lenny Cahill (organ, bass, piano, drums), guest vocalists (Tinley, Haley Heynderickx) and strings (Mary Barnecutt, Gerard Toal).

What fractures quality control, however, are the lyrics, which too often don’t convince. Ageless Song is case in point – with a Tom Waits-like barroom set-up, Doran shoehorns a trail of songwriters, including Neil Young, Michael Jackson, Lennon & McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and respective song titles into a well-intentioned if cringeworthy celebration of pop/rock classics. Another track, None the Wiser, offers more basic autobiography with small-town reminiscing defeated by insipid lines such as “I was in town last week buying paint for the kitchen wall”.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

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