Drowning in the Shallow [review]

Lying out in the sun this morning I downloaded Andy Flannagan’s new album, released today and debuting on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts at #6.

I listened a couple of times through and decided it was worthy of a few comments. Not really a review, more like an extended urge from me to you to buy it, listen to it, hear the words and take the meaning.

Andy is an Irishman, and his Ulster lilt is in full display in some of the songs, never more so that in the second track ‘The Reason’. Combined with strings playing melodiously in the background, this thumps home the message with resounding strength.

For a long while ‘Fragile’ was the only song by Andy I owned, and this very special song finds a particular home among the tracks on this album. As with many of the songs, the story behind the words make them more powerful when you know them and curious and curiouser when you don’t.

A couple of other tracks to call particular mention to, ‘Ego’ could lull you into a false sense of security with its merry notes, before shattering your pretences with the powerful words “I took so long to realise, that love equals sacrifice”.

‘Addiction’ catches you with the clever rhythm that draws you in, and Andy does things with his voice that really only belong in a boy’s choir. It tells a story that’s both personal and social. It’s a tale that he speaks of as his own but with such resonance for me, and I’m sure many more. The wish to turn our viewing habits into a story of our life, with pause, fast forward and rewind available at will.

The album fits together as a piece of music but each song stands on its own. At times while listening I wished for just a little bit more musical expansion, some of the songs seemed to build towards a crescendo, and then almost flinch away at the last minute. That’s the case with ‘I will not be leaving’ and with the final song on the album ‘Fall’. But that’s as far as my criticism would go.

For some reason iTunes refused to download ‘Fall’ on the first attempt, which meant that when I managed to get it I listened with even greater intent. Having heard Andy play in a variety of different settings I’m sure I’ve heard this one before. I’d struggle to put the album into any particular genre, it’s folksy in parts but it’s not folk music. Likewise while the songs are full of worship, they are not really worship songs. ‘Fall’ is perhaps the exception to that. In the notes on the sleeve Andy writes this next to the lyrics to this track: “I used to rush around a lot trying to change the world. I still do. But without the rushing. And now I realise I’m part of the world that needs changing.”

Indeed. Those are words I need to hear.

All in all it’s a beautiful album, and even more so it’s a reflection of Andy’s heart. I’d suggest you go and spend 799 pennies right now and buy it.

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