Well, before I start on this one, the debut solo album, 'White Feather', from The Answer's frontman, Cormac Neeson, I have to say that I'm a tad confused. My review copy seems to be the final released version, a very smart looking digipak, which lists 13 tracks on the back. However, placing this in my player and the disc only has 10 tracks. Hmmm. The booklet that's included with the CD has lyrics for all 13 tracks, albeit in an entirely different order to those listed on the back of the digipak, and one has a slightly different title ('Don't Wait Up' in the booklet; 'Don't Wait' on the digipak). So, yep, I'm not entirely sure what this is all about, but something's evidently gone wrong somewhere along the line.
So, of the ten tracks that are on the disc... wow. There's some affectively moving stuff on here. But this one is very personal to Neeson, according to the blurb. He wrote 'Broken Wing' for his four year old son, Dabhóg, who has Down's Syndrome and was born prematurely by 3 months. Apparently, "the track made an immediate connection with the learning disability charity Mencap", and Neeson became their Northern Ireland ambassador in February this year. Admirably, he'll be donating a portion of profits from the album to the charity. A generous and lovely move.
So, yes, as I said, the songs here are rather moving, imbued as they are with sincere emotional depths, both in composition and performance. Neeson's voice has both emotional strength and fragility, with the overriding impression the man's singing his heart out. He's stated of his intent: "I've been, at times, brutally honest with myself and tried to create something with real truth and power attached to it." In this, he's succeeded, and the "introspective songs" that are talked about in the press release, along with the fact the album's sourced from "life changing events of the past five years", is axiomatic in the sonic sincerity and raw emotional power that shines through, as well as in his lyrics.
Musically, it's all very minimalist - vocals; acoustic guitar; drums; bass; and pedal steel guitar (and, here and there, a little piano and Hammond, cello and violin). Yet, there's nothing minimalist about the songs in terms of emotions. This is full-on and, as I've already said, provides an incredibly moving listen. Stylistically, it's been described as a "Celtic Nashville concoction", and that, I would say, is pretty spot on. No surprise, I guess, seeing as Neeson made three trips over to the States to work on material, before finally recording the songs in Nashville. His surroundings must've permeated his sonwriting. In a very natural sounding way, I might add.
Overall, then, 'White Feather' is a fantastic debut solo offering from one of Northern Ireland's finest. Still curious about the track disparity, though!
Review by Mark Holmes
26th April 2019
1) White Feather; 2) Do Something Today
3) Don't Wait; 4) Broken Wing
5) Sweet Gentle Love
6) Oh Son
7) Song That Lives Forever
8) Look Down on Me
10) Home to Me
11) Everywhere But Here
12) What You Do To Me
13) Whole Again
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the songs here are rather moving, imbued as they are with sincere emotional depths, both in composition and performance."