- 22 May 19
With his unpolished Irish singing, Ronan Kealy - aka Junior Brother - sets himself apart from other young Irish artists. Though produced at Ailfionn Studios in Drumcondra, his debut LP Pull The Right Rope has a wonderfully rural and gothic feel.
His strength is in building immersive soundscapes out of small fragments. Most tracks find the singer accompanying himself on twangy acoustic guitar and foot tambourine; however, on tunes such as 'Coping' and 'Full Of Wine', he utilises all the different sounds a mouth can produce - experimenting with tempo, volume and even wails. When combined with his dynamic guitar playing, the results are often remarkable.
He's also a skilled songwriter. Featuring extra instrumentation in the form of deep sorrowful fiddles, break-up ballad 'The Back Of Her' benefits from its idiosyncratic imagery, as he recalls "Watching the moon from a lake reflection ruined by swans...". Meanwhile, album highlight 'You Will Know My Name' has a cinematic feel reminiscent of Nick Cave: "Your teeth grind and tremble at the stories of your shame/ Once you feel these twisting fingers you will know my name."
Overall, Junior Brother's debut is very much like rural Ireland: raw and stark - but very beautiful.
OUT MAY 24 - STEPHEN PORZIO