Conor Linnie Astray Album Review
Review by Luke Etherton
Wicklow man, Conor Linnie, released his debut album “Astray” with a cracking gig in Whelan’s on the 16th of March. It’s a 32 minute, Summery expression of Linnie’s love for the fingerpick and bluesy vocal line. His voice is soft but lively, well controlled, soulful, and wavers dandily at the top end of its potency. Most importantly, the ostentatious embellishments that are the downfall of so many over-eager young songsters are thankfully absent. If the tunes are somewhat formulaic, it only stands to the benefit of Conor’s lyrical capacity, which is the real success of the album. Take a listen to “Gossamer Girl” for some serious gems: “. . . I digress / to you, because I’d rather spend the evening / simply close-reading the lexical curve of your neck.” Tracks like “Praying Mantis” and “Crash Bandicoot Blues”, (a grand blues-epic on the scale of a videogame) while fine glossy tunes, are relegated to the outer reaches of the album for being more pliable, with the real weight being carried around the 10-20 minute mark. “The Fire I’m Kindling” is by far the most fully-realised showcase of Conor’s intentions; impressive, lyrically, and featuring the most expressive guitar-playing on the album. This mode of melancholy celebration needs to be favoured over the inaction of “Sweet Nothings”, which only unpins the successes of the other songs.
“Astray” shows growth within a lush musical environment of trad and bluegrass, which twinges on his own natural folksy for a more realistic (better) version of the whimsy and carefree that might have been produced five years ago in the same climate. This is an impressive debut from a properly capable songwriter; with a bit more patience in the studio, his next release should be worth shouting about. Without practicing any sins, think of Nick Drake, Gallagher, and Jack Johnson. Keep an eye out for his pub gigs in Dublin!
Listen to and buy “Astray” on Conor’s Bandcamp page.
Check out our pictures from Conor’s album release gig at Whelan’s!