All The Luck In The World – ‘A Blind Arcade’ reviewed

❉ This is an Irish folk trio made for musical adventures, writes Eoghan Lyng.

If any group has a claim to be the Irish Crosby, Stills and Nash, then All The Luck In The World may be the recipients. Berlin based songwriters Neil Foot, Kelvin Barr and Ben Connolly share harmonies, instruments and ethereal emotions, with just the right level of ambiguity.

Taking Haven (which they then nicknamed their safe spot) in a woodshed, converting it into a studio space, the Wicklow countryside flows through the music (the band joked to Music Musings and Such “We racked up a lot of hours in a little home-studio that we built in an old shed; with a fold-out couch and a tiny heater that only caught fire once (I think!)”).

And that sense of adventure neatly describes album opener A Thousand Eyes, neatly strummed in the sixties classics of Helplessly Hoping and Dear Prudence, though the knowing “I’m not him and you’re not her” brings a nice degree of cynicism to the proceedings.  Followed by Abhainn (Gaelic for “river”, a common motif of Celtic origin) has a thunderous undercurrent, hauntingly whispered by the three singers. There is a sense of the unknown, unnerving even, here; if your palette is more John Lennon Plastic Ono Band than Paul McCartney Band On The Run, you’ll probably find this a very pleasing record.

Golden October (a throwback, perhaps, to the James Joyce/Syd Barrett classic Golden Hair), is the best track here.  Raw in voice, a soft verse is thrown into the musical abyss as the electric guitars and illuminous strings stir harder and harder, and so too does the singing grows more aggressive still, a classic Black Francis trick for acoustic guitars. This is an indie standard, stronger than the better loved repertoire of The Coronas or The Script. “Don’t you fall in I’m not caught /I was all in you were not” is a particularly beautiful lyric of potency and regret. High Beams continues this sense of morbidity, a thunderous drum beat grinds the sounds, just as John Bonham brought out the Celtic responses from Robert Plant on Gallows Pole, here too the drums bring out the taggered excitement from the vocals.

Respite is brought in the album’s second half.  Into The Ocean is wonderful Waterboys pop, Landmarks hews back to the zanier songs of Simon and Garfunkel opus Bookends, the drive click of a bass and drums combo more evident here than on the other tracks. There is an expense of power in the latter part (A Blind Arcade has a substantially stronger first half than second), but the frisson makes up for this; the fun after the stormy-weathered prooceedings.

Ben Connolly comments; “It’s a combination of experiences, empathy, and fiction. We put a lot of thought into the lyrical content of each song, taking our time rather than settling with something we weren’t completely happy with. We are always teeming with musical ideas and it’s a constant priority to maintain a high standard lyrically when we write. It prolonged the process for sure, but the reward is a group of songs that we can be really proud of.”

A record streamed from beginning with a “‘forgive-and-forget” mantra, this an album as much of the artists finding themselves as it is the listeners finding out who they are. This is an Irish folk trio made for musical adventures, whether holing themselves in the Wicklow mountains or touring in the bright lights of the Berlin zeitgeist. Here’s to the next one, wherever they find themselves.

❉ All The Luck In The World – ‘A Blind Arcade’ is released on Feb 23rd ℗ 2018 All the Luck in the World, RRP £7.99 (digital). Listen and pre-order on Apple Music or Google Play.

 Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life. 

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