It wasn’t so long ago we were raving about Ciaran Lavery’s last album. ‘Not Nearly Dark’ was a stunningly moody piece of alternative folk. To be perfectly honest, we were expecting a lengthy sojourn in anticipation of that notoriously difficult album but less than a year later, we’ve a new release in hand.
‘Other People Wrote These’ is unmistakably the sound of Ciaran Lavery but in terms of content we’re miles away from that debut record. We’ve taken a long, straight freeway way out west somewhere and by fluke, whiskey, Buckfast or flux capacitors we find ourselves in the darkest of places… The 80s.
As you may have surmised from the record’s title, other people have written these tunes. Those other people are David Byrne, Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie and Billy Steinberg who penned ‘I Drove All Night’ as made famous by Cyndi Lauper and later by its intended vocalist, Roy Orbison.
It’s on this wistful ballad we start and while Lauper and Orbison both gave it a little bit of upbeat pop bombast, Lavery takes it back to its roots. Tear-stained, whiskey-drenched with occasional banjo accompanying the anguished mid-Ulster drawl. There’s a real sense of desperation here that comes out only in this sparse mix. Our car may be cruising somewhat slower but the heartfelt ache of that all-night drive is all the more believable.
There are lighter-hearted times ahead as the young singer songwriter lends an original arrangement and stellar vocal to Pat Benatar’s ‘All Fired Up’ and Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’. Neither track should work as a lilting folk tune but they do. Lavery is a wily old head on young shoulders and the fact that his oft-heard live rendition of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is noticeable in its absence here shows a dedication to the craft of picking a good tune to tackle.
Stand out moment of the set and hopefully of future live performances is Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’. A lesser artist would baulk at the very idea of covering such a highly regarded classic. It’s as close to the original as anything on here has come but it’s almost tongue in cheek music hall cabaret. There’s an almost Duke Special vibe to the piano vamps and the additional instrumentation of Rachel Boyd and Mike Mormecha lifts the tune from the otherwise slow paced feel of the record.
When Lavery wails those “aye-aye-aye-ay-ahs” you can be fairly sure he’s no psycho killer but a damn scary talent to be reckoned with.
Other People Wrote These will be available exclusively via Bandcamp 22 Sept 2013.