Given the success of The End of History, the mercury award nominated album that saw Fionn Regan rise from the shadow of obscurity and into the limelight with the media spouting the usual “next Dylan” nonsense. It was almost inevitable that Regan would drop the ball on its follow up The Shadow of an Empire, and he did creating an album that marked a swift change, more electric and quicker in pace but losing Regan’s uncanny ability to pen a fantastically memorable lyric in the process.
Regan’s third album 100 Acres of Sycamore therefore is the perfect place for the record to be put straight and for Regan to get his foot back in the doorway of a room filled with the fantastic singer-songwriters around today.
100 Acres of Sycamore is a return to the sound that made Fionn such an unstoppable force from 2006 onwards. The album titled opener is full of atmosphere, a slow burner that broods with orchestration taking the forefront rather than the single bright guitar we would have heard on The End of History. While it isn’t perhaps the horse out of the gate start to an album we would want, it is wonderful to listen to. Dogwood Blossom meanwhile harks back to the simple production that served Fionn so well in the past with a beautifully contemplative acoustic guitar melody while vocally, there is just a slight hint of reverb that creates that spine tingling feeling that few can create these days. But these are just rare moments in an album that is too eager to just stay in first gear, while The End of History and even (despite its flaws) The Shadow of an Empire had personality, 100 Acres of Sycamore comes across as a dross, droney uninspired set of twelve songs that you would not expect from such a talent. Let us all hope for Fionn Regan’s sake that his fans forgive such a dire excuse of a record.