Danny Carroll: I Am the Cheese – Not just some mopey guy with a guitar

This debut solo album is filled with charmingly well-rounded songs, proving there is more to this Dublin indie musician than meets the eye

I Am the Cheese
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Artist: Danny Carroll
Genre: Indie
Label: Self-released

Forget the self-aggrandising title. Danny Carroll’s debut album is less a statement of brashness than a glimpse into both the vulnerabilities and the trivialities of the Dublin musician’s life. Having previously released music with the Irish indiepop band Shrug Life, Carroll makes solo music that can be filed neatly alongside that of fellow DIY oddball acts such as Paddy Hanna and Jeffrey Lewis, with a side of Belle & Sebastian-style tweeness and Jonathan Richman’s childlike wonder. Carroll is not just some mopey guy with a guitar, though; these winsome songs are charmingly well-rounded.

The quirky strut of the album’s opener, Pep Talk, perfectly sets the tone, bouncing between a disarming Wilco-influenced acoustic number and a brisk pop-folk canter. Cheesemonger (I Am the Cheese) builds from schmaltzy cabaret to a mini-orchestral epic. Affection showcases the tender quiver of Carroll’s voice, striking the right balance between sweetness and sentimentality.

Carroll’s turn of phrase is quietly striking, too, be it on the lovelorn snapshot that is Golden Hour or on the amusingly self-aware Pimlico (“Plodding through Pimlico in the soft spitting rain on a granite-grey Sunday/ The kind of aesthetic Ian Curtis impersonators would like to pretend is deeply poetic”). Elsewhere, the unguarded emotion on both February and October Afternoons (“The future feels shuttered when you’re stuck on a memory”) shows that there is more to Carroll than meets the eye – and this is a very fine starting point for his solo career.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times