However he sings it

Ronan Furlong has a strange voice. This isn't an insult or a criticism. Rather, his voice is one of the reasons his music is so striking. I'm not sure if this is his natural voice, or if he settled on this affected style because he thought it sounded cool, but that doesn't matter.

Ronan Furlong
Red Sun Rising
(Nub Music)

Actually, I'm pretty sure there are elements of artifact in the way his voice gets more and more pinched as he lowers the volume. When he's kicking out a rocker like "Let It Rain," Furlong sounds almost human. But really, enough about the voice. For now.

Furlong rambles all over the folk, roots and rock landscape. He's Irish, but his influences come from just about everywhere. Like many British Isles polymaths, Furlong tends to let a song's needs inform his musical choices. As a result, this album sounds more like a collection of songs than a coherent set.

Then again, his unusual singing style (not that again!) is a unifying element. I think his best songs are slightly twisty, whether they're based on rock or folk (or whatever) bones. The combination of a noodly guitar and his voice is intoxicating.

While many of his songs are exquisite, I don't think this album is one that will immediately leap to the ears. Rather, repeat listens will reveal the greatness within. Not sneaky good; this one is sneakily brilliant.

Jon Worley

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