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Fionn Regan
Cala Jo Higgs , August 13th, 2019 08:50

Fionn Regan looks to the sea on sixth album Cala with lyrical effect, finds Jo Higgs

Coastal life is the titular theme of Fionn Regan’s sixth studio album. Cala, Spanish for ‘cove’, swims in references to beaches, the moon and the rolling waves. The vital imagery so poetically presented across its ten tracks appears similarly in the gently shimmering reflection gifted by the instrumental arrangements.

The album art, a sombre and sincere black and white portrait of Regan, captured by Autumn de Wilde, in many ways, characterises what Cala does: its simplicity births little in the way of sonic or thematic variation, yet its earnestness is endearing. It’s largely what sees the project escape the daunting trap of tedium. The album itself often feels like a photograph. Its static form and unwillingness to venture far beyond the structures and dynamics brought forth early on see an ephemeral sensation permeate the project. So many melodic intonations of oceanic imagery and other evocations of the natural world instil a sense of serenity. However, this unchanging calmness is occasionally lulling to a point of monotony.

There are some truly gorgeous arrangements on the album. ‘Collar of Fur’ and ‘Glaciers’ come to mind in particular, with their intimate-sounding finger-style guitar and sparse wisps of airy piano, or pulsating box percussion and ominous distorted bass guitar, respectively creating an idyllic mood for their lyrical themes.

Regan is undoubtedly a talented poet. His romantic phrases conjure such crystalline images. Descriptions flow effortlessly and with elegance, placing us on a coast by Dublin, amongst a delicate devising of marble staircases, August moons and foam-fringed waves, each of them beckoning for us to recognise their ethereal grace.

Soft and airy vocal performances float lovingly above gentle acoustic guitar throughout, occasionally breaking into a careful and tempered falsetto. Regan’s melodies are not all written to stick and ring about your head as a constant chiming reminder of his sung sentiments, yet always do wander with purpose: never bereft of meaning or intention.

Cala is a record that, at its strongest, reaches astounding levels of beauty and emotional fragility, but at its weakest, is just a fading shadow of its most powerful moments.

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