- 17 Apr 20
Serenading troubadour's winning new collection.
Produced in Los Angeles by Grammy winner Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek et al), this is the fourth studio collection from Galway singer-songwriter Ultan Conlon and for which Watkins has assembled a band of hot honchos, including Empire Burlesque-Dylan alumnus Don Heffington on drums, Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Rich Hinman’s pedal steel and Tyler Chester (keyboards).
The song ‘World from A Window’, inspired by Conlon’s layabout, do-nothing kitten, is a timely reflection on our use/obsession with modern digital devices that more often serve as distractions. This track, as with ‘Don’t Let Love Slip Away’ and ‘Where The Shadows Outgrow The Lights’ are rocked up a little, but nothing in danger of disturbing that kitten. The title track is a loping country-tinged slice of country-folk-rock seasoned with words of reconciliation, and it shifts deliciously into a graceful string-driven waltz towards the end.
Gabe Witcher’s fiddle brings an old-timey feel to the fragility of ‘A Long Way Back’ in which Conlon explores alcoholism. Perhaps I should feel guilty at dissing ‘In The Blink of an Eye’, inspired as it was by the early death of Conlon’s father, but as a song it strikes me as fairly mundane. Sorry. The ten-track album ends with the wistful, if slightly apocalyptic, ‘A Landslide’.
Witcher’s fiddle plays a sterling role on many tracks, but Watkins ensures there’s nothing over-cooked or overwrought, so the studio never gets in the way, although Conlon’s vocals might have benefitted from some more beefed-up harmonies. Throughout There’s A Waltz, Conlon sings with conviction and ease, as if he’s nothing to prove (because he hasn’t). His songs are based on a confronting of reality rather than offering escape routes, songs of substance told with intelligence and wry observation. He does it all with compassion and a lack of finger-pointing, so nobody takes the blame here.