Sonny Condell first became known through his work with Scullion and Tir na nOg, but nowadays he's out on his own. This concert marked the unofficial launch of his third solo album, French Windows. Condell was joined by Garvan Gallagher (bass) and Eddie McGinn (drums), and played an absorbing two-hour set. Condell may fall into the singer/songwriter bracket, but he does not write conventional singer/songwriter fare. His music has its own subtle logic, full of unpredictable twists and turns. He is also a formidable guitarist - his rhythm is precise without being intrusive, and his chord-voicings are unusual. Indeed, all three musicians were notably subtle and understated.
Condell opened with several songs from his new album, the most successful being Telephone - an achingly direct, simple song. On Hungry for You he spoke some of the lines, which in the wrong hands could have been hopelessly corny, but for some reason worked here. After this, a vibrant rendering of The Ocean Floor provided a welcome change of tempo and mood. Condell's solo version of his comic song Venomous Viper was one of the evening's highlights. He shifted smoothly between speech and song, twisting the words with Randy Newman-like sharpness (while also playing an intricate guitar accompaniment). The musicians came into their own on I Listen to Snow and A Sign of Madness, building both songs to electrifying climaxes. They concluded with a suitably grinding version of Ground Down. An exceptional concert.
Sonny Condell plays the [Baggott Inn on Tuesday 9th March, and will be playing in The Cobblestone, Smithfield for the next three Saturdays)