album reviews

Fionn Regan
The End of History
Lost Highway (2007)

A nomination for the 2007 Mercury Prize (an annual award for the best U.K. or Irish record) put Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan in a group alongside such critical darlings as the Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Dizzee Rascal and eventual winners the Klaxons. Sonically, though, Regan has more in common with the soft-spoken alt-folk of his fellow countryman Damien Rice than those nominees' more attention-grabbing inventiveness.

Regan has taken a risk with "The End of History": The album's sparse instrumentation thrusts his voice and songwriting into sharp focus, and to his detriment, the songs often aren't compelling enough to stand on their own. Album opener "Be Good or Be Gone" has received attention for its location-jumping video, but stripped of those visuals, his casual repetitions of the song's title trivialize the complexities of relationships, leaving him sounding too carefree and cheery for the song's subject.

His dry voice on "Put a Penny in the Slot" sounds flat, particularly as Regan reaches for high notes, and the unvarying chords of "Hey Rabbit" draw attention to his tinny, thin vocals. The violin and viola that supplement the dreamy "Snowy Atlas Mountains" add just enough texture to support the song's pensive mood; its more robust instrumentation gives the tune a more developed feel, showing a glimmer of the talent expected from a Mercury nominee.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 12 October 2007, Page WE13
.: The End of History on