Oxygen 21 from Enda Reilly - different, absorbing songs that demand attention
New is easy – different is hard. With his debut album 'Oxygen 21' Enda Reilly has managed to achieve new and different. He has created an original and eccentric voyage into folk-pop-country influenced music. If you join in you'll find intriguingly arranged songs with stunningly original lyrics. Enda makes idiosyncratic and emotive observations on life, love, the world, the greenhouse effect – including generating power from people pedalling in gyms – now there's a thought. These interpretations reflect the world around us, sadness of lost love, dark human emotions and unpredictable humour.
The title track 'Oxygen 21' is one of the most inventive eco-songs I've heard in a while. Its origin is the 21% oxygen that makes up the air we breathe and the need to protect the trees that produce it. Not simply an 'eco-rant', this intelligent song is full of surprising musical twists and unexpected turns. 'Strangers on a Train' is a dark observation into the dangers of a casual meeting (to understand see the Hitchcock film or read the Patricia Highsmith novel). It's also a trip into Enda's song writing talent with a genial rolling country-inspired tune that belies its scary content. 'Hidin' Away' is beautiful, with a style that reminds me of a W.B. Yeats' poem set to music - familiar ground for Enda from his days with The Mongrels.
Among the other tracks are 'I'm Doin' Fine Just the Way I Am' - you do what you want to do and respect other people for what they want. 'Hear the Cries' and 'Nut in the Hut' are clearly one song separated at birth (reminded me of Country Joe and the Fish) and almost psychedelic in arrangement. Possibly they're stream of consciousness thinking or perhaps unedited, raw folk-rap if there is such a style – whatever they're good.
'I'm Not Crazy' – starts with faint foreboding and sense of gathering fear, and then gains a hard edge of brooding menace - seemingly written after the impact of Hurricane Caitriona – so no wonder. 'Yesterday How I Cried' and 'Chance 3' are introspective, gentle love songs about realising love's transience. 'Why Can't We Live in Peace?' is Enda's plea for deeper understanding of one another. The album closes with a live version of 'Henry' that tells the sad tale of the eponymous hero's life. More great lyrics: "She loved like a river in flood, he was left to wallow in the mud." Brilliant!
Joined by Dave Griffin (keyboard on 'Nut in the Hut') and Peter Keogh (bass and co-writer of 'Chance 3') Enda handles everything else on the album, from writing, to playing and singing, to producing and mastering. This album demands time to get below the surface and appreciate its different, absorbing songs, there's effort involved but make it - this album is worth the investment.
released July 5, 2009
All songs written, recorded and produced by Enda Reilly.
Mastered by Enda Reilly and Fergal Davis (Suite Studios).
Dave Griffin played keys on Nut in the Hut and Peter Keogh played Bass on Chance 3.
Artwork Enda Reilly/Daniel Costello
Thanks to all who have given support to me over the years, I very much appreciate it.
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