Fionn Regan’s fourth album sees another shift in approach. From his beguiling Mercury Music Prize nominated 2006 debut, The End Of History, through the plugged-in, full band, electric The Shadow Of An Empire, and the strings, piano and lush arrangements of last year’s 100 Acres Of Sycamore, we arrive at his most stripped-back effort yet.
Self-recorded at his own Bunkhouse Studio, using a single microphone and a 4-track recorder, the ten songs on The Bunkhouse Vol. 1 have only Regan’s voice and nylon-strung guitar to speak for them. There are no complex arrangements or clever production tricks to hide behind here; nor are they needed.
The poetic lyrics, by turns wistful, dark and witty, are delivered with the sort of ease of rhythm and phrasing that we’ve become accustomed to hearing on previous albums. The simple nature of these recordings really brings them to the fore here.
Fionn Regan describes his latest work as an attempt to “get back to the essence of what it is I do as a songwriter”. In doing so, he offers us a brave insight into the songwriter at work.
It’s refreshing to hear these songs presented in this way. Nothing is superfluous. Listening to The Bunkhouse Vol. 1 offers a simple, uncluttered connection to its songs. In places, in fact, it feels like you’re in the room with Fionn Regan. On the sublime album closer, Moving To Berlin, you can hear him shifting about on his seat as he plays. No attempt has been made to hide this and that highlights perfectly the presence and honesty that make this a great album.