Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alan Donnelly, hailing from rural Ireland, sent us his debut solo EP, Session One. He recorded, produced and mixed the four-track set himself in his garden shed. Session One is meant as an introductory piece to his forthcoming full-length album The Shadows.
Donnelly works as a freelance composer for commercial advertising campaigns, and his ability to write across multiple styles is on display on Session One. Each track explores a different genre, giving the listener a quartet of aural treats. The lyrics are a bit dark; Donnelly tells us that the songs are “very personal” to him, as they touch on key moments in his life.
“The Flood” kicks off the set. It’s a folk tune, a 6/8 minor dirge that starts with just acoustic guitar and vocals. For the second verse, the rest of the band kicks in (with all instruments played by Donnelly); the layered vocals add to the haunting feel. Donnelly plays a terrific clean-toned electric guitar solo--foreshadowing some of his work later in the EP--over the acoustic-driven middle section. “The Flood” is a great start.
The second track “When You’re Gone” is a jazzy, bluesy shuffle that recalls the feel of Willie Nelson’s “Georgia On My Mind,” if he took the tempo up a bit. Again Donnelly lays down a terrific clean-toned electric guitar solo.
“Mirror Mirror” and “Rain” get a little darker, lyrically. “Mirror Mirror,” with its appropriately self-reflective words, takes a bit of a reggae turn, but the drumming features extra kicks that are straight out of the heavy metal playbook. It adds that extra bit of tension, and prepares us for the evil waltz that is “Rain.” “Rain” is flat-out terrific with tasty syncopated bass-and-drum parts underneath a fingerstyle guitar figure. However, it’s the string lines on the second verse that really send it to that next level. Wow.
Donnelly says that he plans to release another EP in advance of the full album. Good thing there’s more music coming. We need to hear it soon!
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