At the risk of being accused of pretentiousness, is there a touch of the Paddy Kavanagh developing in Matt McGinn, the rural Irish artist commenting on both local and world events and finding them interlinked.

Kavanagh’s March Ditch reflections on a local boundary dispute while Nation States carve up Europe might not be out of place in McGinn’s recent musings.

This is Matt McGinn’s third studio album and undoubtedly his most thoughtful and rounded work to date. It finds him in a reflective and even angry mood.

He is concerned about no less a matter than “Common people who have carried nations on their backs for centuries”. No pressure then for the work to live up to such a mighty statement.

So this could have been an angry young person – well, age is relative – with an acoustic guitar and three chords railing against the state of the world album. There’s nothing wrong with that, just ask Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, and many others. From the first bars of the opening track, this is a fully-formed rock, blues, and soul belter.

McGinn has clearly built up an impressive list of musical friends as he has developed his career. To list but a few, Colm McClean on guitar and pedal steel, Mike Mormecha on drums, Rachel Boyd on strings and long-time friend the brilliant keyboard player John McCullough.

Alongside these core elements, he mixes in a kicking brass section from some of the very fine such players in his native South Down, namely Matthew Benson on trumpet and Stevie Clark on tenor sax. He tops all this off with the spellbinding use of the theremin played by Caroline Eyck.

Matt McGinn can sing, really sing, a skill not always in evidence in this style of music.

The songs range from the personal; ‘Somewhere To Run To’, ‘Marianne’ and ‘The Overlanders’ to the more universal; ‘Trump’, ‘The End Of Days’ and title track ‘The End Of The Common Man’.

There are flavours of Robert Johnston’s crossroads deals in ‘Medicine Joe’ and ‘The Right Name’. The ‘Trump’ track is great, re-imagining Donald as an elephant with matching music. Very clever, but perhaps unfair to that most beautiful and wonderful member of the animal kingdom.

I like this album. It’s angry, tender, funny and all points in between. The packaging and photographs by fellow artist Ken Haddock are a joy. So much more tactile than a mere download
with no feeling.

Matt McGinn is set to play a run of carefully chosen venues around Ireland. Catch one of these shows if you can. Until then, buy the album and play it loud and proud.