Ahead of the St Patrick’s Day shenanigans Ireland’s most treasured songwriter Mick Flannery brings new album By The Rule to Liverpool’s Leaf, Getintothis’ Emma Walsh has the lowdown.
If there is a better way to spend a Monday evening than in the heart of Bold Street listening to one of the greatest songwriters to grace these shores, we don’t want to hear it. Now we know what you’re thinking, and any other Monday of the year you might be right, but no, on this occasion we aren’t referring to the husky-voiced troubadour who fills the evening air with his Spanish guitar on Ropewalks Square.
Next Monday, just a few days before the city’s Irish bars host the party of the year, Harvest Sun bring Mick Flannery and his stunning new album By The Rule to Leaf, promising an evening of the finest folk and blues this side of Nashville.
There has been something of an American twang to Flannery’s previous efforts, something he claims is “left over from listening to too much Tom Waits” (as if there were such a thing as too much Tom Waits) but it no doubt has something more to do with his time rambling around the States in 2004 during which he won two categories of the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville. He was the first Irish musician to win this accolade but that probably dimmed in comparison for Flannery by the fact that his idol Tom Waits was on the judging panel. Either way, the twang has subsided and on the new album the Irishman says “I sound like myself”, a statement that extends further than just his accent. On this, his fourth album, Flannery comes into himself as a songwriter.
Hailing from Blarney in County Cork, Mick Flannery challenges the myth of his hometown’s famous Blarney Stone, from which one can glean the gift of the gab with a single kiss. But perhaps the softly spoken Flannery does not kiss and tell, saving the power of his words and the magic of his storytelling for his songs. Across his four albums, the listener has been regaled with tales both heartbreaking and exhilarating, songs which Flannery claims he picks up from stories overheard from people in bars and cafes. You can almost taste the truth in these tales, there is a familiar history in the atmosphere of Flannery’s songs, they are mingled somehow with the long forgotten smoke of pubs and should be accompanied always by a pint of porter or a whiskey in hand.
With such a richness in the bedrock of his songwriting, Flannery need not muddle his tracks with too much else. New album By The Rule, described as “uncomplicated and uncluttered”, does justice to that simplicity. Songs such as Pride and The Watcher are allowed to creep into the ether softly, each track unfolding before the listener without ceremony or fanfare. These are songs written to be performed beneath the winking disco balls of Leaf’s upstairs sanctuary.
It promises to be a spectacular evening of music and Mick Flannery will be in good company with Lee Southall and Only Child providing support.