After three years in the shadows, John Gallagher watches Fionn Regan return to the spotlight
It’s been three years since we’ve seen or heard from Wicklow native Fionn Regan, but the Mercury Prize nominee of 2007 is back once again – albeit not in the fashion some will best remember.
Debut effort The End of History highlighted the songwriter’s capability to create music that was both honest and subtle, and ultimately earned him a ticket to the music factory that is Nashville, Tennessee. A then 27-year-old Regan worked with such renowned producers as Ethan Johns, who had previously worked with Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne and Rufus Wainwright, and set about cutting a second album on the Lost Highway label.
Fionn recalls this chapter with a somewhat heavy heart. Like an artist who was commissioned to paint a picture, Regan was given “his colours and his canvas,” but later discovered that the record company “thought the trees would be tilting the other way and there would be a lot more water out the front.” In the end, Fionn decided to bail of his own accord. “I reversed out the drive and found myself on the deck of the ship; the captain was gone, and I had hold [sic] onto the steering wheel.”
It was not long, however, before the American Country and Western scene took note of the 5’4” Paddy with the eclectic finger-picking style, with admirers including none other than multi Grammy-winning performer Lucinda Williams. A baby-faced Regan was “taken in, so to speak” by the experienced Louisianan artist.
Since then, the troubador from Bray has returned to Ireland to record and release his long-awaited sophomore album, Shadow of an Empire. The opus might take some fans by surprise; a transition best illustrated in the words “Regan goes electric” sees the folkster release the rocker within. “There’s no rules with music,” declares Regan. “You move from thing to thing. This time around I’ve gone for an edgier sound. God knows where I’ll go next!”
Like all works of art, Regan’s album was not a simple or rushed affair, and tells various characters stories in a humorous and engaging manner. “It was like digging to another country with a teaspoon,” jests Regan, describing the album-making process. Regan also feels the album should be listened to in its entirety, saying, “I don’t think you’ll understand this record if you hear one or two tunes. You need to sit down with the record as a whole, otherwise you might get on the back of the wrong horse.”
Regan will tour the UK and Ireland for the next month, hoping he will travel far and wide on the back of this much anticipated colt.
Shadow of an Empire is released on 5th February. Regan plays Vicar St on 15th March.