Mick Flannery: Goodtime Charlie - Best-selling troubadour lightens up

Cork singer is more hit than miss on an assured eighth album

Goodtime Charlie
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Artist: Mick Flannery
Genre: Folk/Rock
Label: Oh Boy Records

Mick Flannery has one of the most idiosyncratic voices in Irish music, an inimitable worldly drawl inspired by his musical heroes, Kurt Cobain, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, which has been making listeners sit up and take notice since 2007. Good Time Charlie is no less than his eighth studio album and his first for Oh Boy Records, a label founded by the late Nashville legend John Prine.

The Cork singer has indicated that there is much more to its title than just a catchy name. “I don’t take myself as seriously as I did when I was 20,” he claims, warming the hearts of anyone who considers singer-songwriters to be specialists in po-faced earnestness. “Back then, you’re all about yourself. I’m open to more fun now, trying things, hence, Goodtime Charlie.”

Flannery’s last outing, a collection of duets with Susan O’Neill called In the Game, was the biggest-selling Irish independent album of 2021. Its success has seemingly opened up a world of further possibilities, as Goodtime Charlie features guest vocals from Tianna Esperenza, Valerie June, and Anaïs Mitchell, and a suite of songs co-written with Ana Nuge.

Young is a standout track by some distance, blending smart beats with strings and an overarching sense of compelling drama on a song about youth and young adulthood. Not everything lands so well. Minnesota featuring Anais Mitchell cruises and piles on the Americana, but without hitting the heights heard elsewhere. However, when Goodtime Charlie soars, Flannery continues to prove himself to be one of our finest singers, songwriters and sonic storytellers.

Éamon Sweeney

Éamon Sweeney, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about music and culture